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Sermon #92[i] — Romans Series


      Title:                                 The Called


      Text:                                  Romans 8:28

Subject:               Effectual Calling

      Reading:             Ezekiel 34:1-31



There are several titles given to God’s saints which appear to be specifically designed to display the fact that they are the objects and beneficiaries of God’s peculiar, distinguishing, discriminating, sovereign grace and love in Christ. Believers are called…

Š      The Elect.

Š      The Redeemed of the Lord.

Š      The Called.


Those who are regenerated, those who are born of God, those who believe on and trust the Lord Jesus Christ are given this peculiar, distinct title, The Called, to distinguish us from those who are not called. Look at it for yourself in Romans 8:28.


(Romans 8:28) “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.”


The Called — That is the title of my message. — The Called.


(Romans 8:28) “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.”


Proposition: Obviously, (at least it is obvious to anyone whose brain has not been pickled by the vinegar of free will religion), the call spoken of here is not the outward, external, general call of the gospel, but the internal, effectual, irresistible call of God the Holy Ghost, by which we have been separated and distinguished from all other people and effectually caused to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.


I really like the way John Gill describes this effectual, irresistible call of grace, which comes to chosen, redeemed sinners by the sovereign power of God the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the gospel.


“Christ stands in the gospel-ministry, at the door of men’s hearts, and knocks and calls. Having the key of the house of David, he opens the heart by the power of his grace, and lets himself in. In this way, and by this means, the Spirit and his graces are received. Men are called both to grace and glory by the gospel.”


Divisions:      I want to show you four things taught in the Word of God about the call of God the Holy Spirit, and then show you from the Book of God who the called are.


1.    All who are called to be the sons of God in time were called the sons of God from eternity.

2.    Those who are the called are called according to the sovereign will and purpose of God.

3.    Those who are the called are called by the sovereign, irresistible grace of God.

4.    Those who are the called are the called of Jesus Christ.

5.    Who are the called?


Eternally Called


1stFirst I want to remind you that all who are called to be the sons of God in time were called the sons of God from eternity. We are called to be the sons of God in time, in the blessed experience of his grace. But all who experience God’s free, saving grace in time were called the sons of God in that blessed adoption of sons commonly referred to as election before the world began (Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 John 3:1-3).


(Galatians 4:4-6) “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”


(Ephesians 1:3-6) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) 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: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”


(1 John 3:1-3) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”


God’s Purpose


2ndThose who are the called are called according to the sovereign will and purpose of God. Sinners are not called to life and faith in Christ because of their will, but because of God’s will. We were not given life and faith in Christ because of what we did, or what might do, but by what God did for us in eternity and in us in time. That which distinguishes God’s elect from other people is the distinguishing grace and purpose of God. What could dead sinners ever do to attract God’s attention and get him to call them? — We were dead in sin when God called us to life and faith in Christ.


                        Illustrations:             Lazarus

                                                                                                Babcock State Park


Do you see how utterly absurd free will religion is? It is the religion of spiritual insanity. It was not our choice of God that caused him to call us, but his choice of us! — Look at Romans 8:28 and 9:16-18


(Romans 8:28) “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.”


(Romans 9:16-18) “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”


Salvation is not man’s work. Salvation is not partially man’s work and partially God’s work. Salvation is not a co-operative effort between God and men. Salvation is God’s work alone. — Salvation is of the Lord!”


God almighty has, in his eternal purpose, determined the particular people whom he will call by his grace. He determined from eternity the time when he will call them; for as there is a time for every purpose, so there is a time for the calling of God’s elect. It is called the time of life and of love. Moreover, our great God determined from eternity the very place where his chosen ones shall be called. And he fixed from eternity the very means and circumstances of their calling, all according to his divine purpose.


Every aspect of our calling shows clearly that the whole thing is the result of the sovereign will and pleasure of God, who does all things after the counsel of his own will. Our will had nothing to do with it. Our works contributed nothing to it.


“‘Tis not that I did choose Thee,

For, Lord, that could not be.

This heart would still refuse Thee,

Hadst Thou not chosen me.

My heart owns none before Thee,

For Thy rich grace I thirst,

This knowing — If I love Thee

Thou must have loved me first!”


Effectual Call


3rd — God’s call is an effectual call. Those who are the called are called by the sovereign, irresistible grace of God. The great, impulsive, moving cause of the effectual call is the grace of God. The Apostle Paul describes the call of God as a call of grace, pure, free, sovereign, undeserved, distinguishing, effectual, irresistible grace (1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 1:15).


(1 Corinthians 15:10) “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”


(Galatians 1:15) “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, (He) called me by his grace.”


Listen to me now. God, as the God of all grace, calls his elect to grace and glory by Christ. The infinite, superabundance of his grace in Christ was displayed to us in this call. Indeed, the first open display of his grace, the first discovery of his love was made to us in this call of grace. Then, seeing something of the infinite grace and love of God in Christ, by the revelation of God the Holy Ghost, we were drawn (called) with loving kindness to Christ, as the fruit and evidence of God’s everlasting love for us. Therefore, the time of calling, is called a time of love (Jeremiah 31:3; Ezekiel 16:8; Zechariah 12:10).


(Jeremiah 31:3) “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”


(Ezekiel 16:6-14) “And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live. (7) I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare. (8) Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine. (9) Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. (10) I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. (11) I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. (12) And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. (13) Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. (14) And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.”


(Zechariah 12:10) “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”


The fact that this call is given to some and not to others demonstrates it is the effect of God’s sovereign, distinguishing grace, and of his good will.


The fact that this call, as spoken of and illustrated in Holy Scripture always results in the one called having eternal life and faith in Christ, demonstrates the efficacy and irresistibility of it


Called of Christ


4thThose who are the called are the called of Jesus Christ. This is what we are told in Romans 1:6 and 2 Timothy 1:9-10.


(Romans 1:6) “Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:”


(2 Timothy 1:9-10) “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, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”


Believers are described as “the called of Jesus Christ” because God the Holy Ghost calls those who were redeemed by Christ, to whom he is sent by Christ. And this calling is ours only “in Christ,” in whom are hid all the treasures of God and by whom alone we receive all the blessings of his grace.


Let us never fail to observe the fact that the triune God has arranged everything in the whole scheme of salvation and grace to give all the glory to Christ, our Mediator and Savior. Even the calling of grace was “given us in him before the world began.” All grace is in Christ, comes to us from Christ, and gives all glory to Christ (Ps. 115:1).


(Psalms 115:1) “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.”


The Called are called from eternity, called according to the purpose of God, called by the grace of God, and called in the Son of God. Now, before I send you home, let me raise and answer from the Word of God…


A Question


5thWho are the called? We are never left to guess about such things as this. These things are plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. Let’s see what the Book of God says. I will not even comment on this, lest any who hear this message think I am twisting the Scriptures to suit our doctrine. Let the Word of God stand alone. It needs no defense from me! Hear what the Book of God says and rejoice in it.


Those who are “the called” are those who were chosen and predestinated unto salvation in Christ before the world began.

Š      Romans 8:28-31

Š      Romans 9:23-24


(Romans 8:28-31) “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. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 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. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”


(Romans 9:23-24) God will “make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.”


The objects of election and effectual calling are the same. Those who were chosen in eternity are called in time. And those who are called in time were chosen in eternity.


Those who are “the called” are those who are in Christ (Jude 1).


(Jude 1:1) “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.”


Š      In His Hands as our Surety

Š      In His Care as our Shepherd

Š      In His Loins as our Representative

Š      In His Heart as our Husband


Those who are “the called” are those who were redeemed and purchased by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. Throughout the Word of God, election, redemption, and effectual calling are works of grace performed for the same people. We were chosen because God loved us, redeemed because God the Father chose us, and called by the Holy Spirit because the Father chose us and the Son redeemed us. Is this, or is it not the teaching of Holy Scripture? (Isaiah 43:1; Zechariah 10:8).


(Isaiah 43:1) “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”


(Zechariah) 10:8 “I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them.”


Those who are “the called” are those who appear the most unlikely to be called (Matthew 11:25; 1 Corinthian 1:26; James 2:5). Publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God, being called of God, while scribes and Pharisees sit around and debate about who is holiest, which church is the true church, where is heaven, when the Lord is going to come again, whether Adam had a navel, or where Cain got his wife! Sinners, real sinners, guilty, helpless, doomed, damned, ungodly, abominable, filthy sinners, are interested in just one thing Mercy! The folks who need mercy, publicans, and harlots, and sinners, not good, religious people, are those who are “THE CALLED”.


(Matthew 11:25) “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”


(1 Corinthians 1:26) “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.”


(James 2:5) “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”


Those who are “the called” are those who ultimately are glorified with Christ (Romans 8:30). Those who are irresistibly called are infallibly kept by the grace of God, and shall be eternally glorified with Christ. After all, he has called us to glory and honor!


Those who are “the called” are you who believe on Christ. To as many as receive him he gives power to become the sons of God (John 15:16; Colossians 2:12; Philippians 1:29). If you call on Christ in faith, it is because he has called you by the effectual, irresistible power and grace of his Holy Spirit.


Illustration: The Handkerchief


“Am I called? And can it be?

Has my Savior chosen me?

Guilty wretched as I am,

Has He named my worthless name?

Vilest of the vile am I,

Dare I raise my hopes so high?


Am I called? I dare not stay,

May not, must not disobey;

Here I lay me at Thy feet,

Clinging to the mercy-seat:

Thine I am, and Thine alone;

Lord with me Thy will be done.


Am I called? What shall I bring,

As an offering to my King?

Poor, and blind, and naked I,

Trembling at Thy footstool lie;

Nought but sin I call my own,

Nor for sin can sin atone.


Am I called? An heir of God!

Washed, redeemed by precious blood!

Father, lead me in Thy hand,

Guide me to that better land

Where my soul shall be at rest,

Pillowed on my Savior’s breast.”









Don Fortner








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[i]    Danville — Sunday Morning — June 19, 2016

     Sovereign Grace Chapel, Crow, WV — (FRI – 06/17/16)