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TEXT: Romans 8:30
SUBJECT: Watson on Redemption Applied #2
Tonight we come to part two in our study of Thomas Watson on the Application of Redemption. Before we get to it, let me briefly remind you of what it means.
Salvation is a work of the Trinity. Each Divine Person works together to save us, but they don't all do the same thing. The Father chooses us for salvation; the son pays the price of our salvation; and the Holy Spirit applies salvation to us. This means you were not saved in eternity and you were not saved when Jesus Christ died for you. You are only saved when the Holy Spirit gives you new life. That's what the application of redemption means.
Last time, we looked at saving faith. Now, we move on to the effectual call. If it were up to me, I would have reversed the two. But that's a quibble and others see it differently--including Thomas Watson.
What is the effectual call? Borrowing from the Shorter Catechism, Watson says,
"Effectual calling is a gracious work of the Spirit,
whereby He causes us to embrace Christ freely,
as He is offered to us in the Gospel".
TWO KEY WORDS
There are two key words here. The first is "causes"-
"God causes us to embrace Christ".
The Gospel invites everyone who hears it to believe and be saved. This is the "outward call". The offer of salvation is sincere and ought to be accepted without delay. But many people don't receive it. They have been outwardly called by God, but not effectually called.
For in the effectual call, God not only offers salvation, but He causes us to accept it. It is more than an influence or a nudge. It is a command that we cannot disobey-and wouldn't want to if we could! Watson calls this "The inward call.
When God, with the offer of grace, works grace.
By this call the heart is renewed, and the will
Is effectually drawn to embrace Christ. The outward
Call brings men to a profession of Christ, the inward
Call brings men to a possession of Christ".
This is a work of God's almighty power. In Ephesians 1, Paul says we
"Believe, according to the working of His mighty
power which He worked in Christ when He raised
Him from the dead and seated Him at His own
Right Hand in the heavenly places.and has put
All things under His feet."
In calling us to salvation, God is exercising the same almighty power that was needed for raising His Son from the dead, seating Him in heaven and bringing every creature under His Lordship!
Though most of us won't admit it, I suspect we all wish we could see God do something "big", like part the Red Sea or heal a paralyzed man or feed 5,000 with a boy's lunch and so on. We've read about His power in the Bible, but we've never seen it up close and personal. Or have we? Paul says we have! That calling sinners to Himself and making them come is equal to the greatest miracle the Lord ever performed!
By His effectual call, therefore, God causes us to believe in Christ and be saved. Watson calls it,
"A new creation and the first resurrection".
The second key word is "freely"-
"The Spirit.causes us to embrace Christ freely".
"Freely" means "without force". Although the Lord causes us to believe, He does not make us do it against our own wills. No, what He does is change the will. He doesn't force an unbeliever to believe, but He makes the unbeliever see the Truth of the Gospel and the beauty of Christ, and so, the sinner comes to faith freely. No one is dragged into the Kingdom of God! No one comes to Christ kicking and screaming! No, Psalm 110 says,
"Your people shall be willing in
the day of Your power".
And so that's what the Effectual Call is-God's work in bringing us to faith in Christ and salvation.
How does He do that? Watson says He uses two things to call us to salvation. They are, firstly,
"The preaching of the Word. God speaks, not by
an oracle, but by His ministers. Perhaps you think
it is only the minister who speaks to you in the Word,
but it is God Himself who speaks! How does He speak
by His ministers? As a king speaks by his ambassadors.
Know that in ever sermon preached, God calls you. And
To refuse the message we bring is to refuse God Himself".
The Puritans were very strong on this one! They did not ascribe infallibility to preachers, of course, but they made no bones about it: When the Word is preached, God speaks! And, most of the time, preaching is a means of salvation.
"Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be
saved. How, then shall they call on Him on whom
they have not believed? And how shall they believe
in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall
they hear without a preacher?
So, then faith comes by hearing and hearing by
The Word of God".
The saving call of God, therefore, is effected by the preaching of the Gospel. But that's not all. The second means of calling us to faith is,
"The Holy Spirit. The ministry of the Word is
the pipe or flute; the Spirit of God blowing
in it effectually changes men's hearts".
Is he right? He is. Paul preached to Lydia, but "the Lord opened her heart to attend to the things he spoke of".
There's a fine illustration of this in Ezekiel 37. God takes the man out to a desert where he sees dry bones all over the ground. The Lord then commands him to preach to the bones. This has a remarkable effect-the bones come together and form skeletons; flesh and skin then grow on the bones and now there's a valley full of men-but they're still dead men. Finally, the Lord commands him to preach to the wind (which, by the way, is the same Hebrew word for Spirit). The Spirit blows upon the dead men-and they come to life.
This doesn't teach the doctrine of effectual calling, but it illustrates it better than any other story in the Bible that I know of.
Word and Spirit. Preach the Word! Pray for the Spirit! And see sinners saved!
FROM WHAT AND TO WHAT
By His Effectual Call, the Lord calls sinners from some things and to some others. Here they are,
"He calls men from their sin, ignorance, unbelief,
danger, and out of the world".
These are good things to be called from! The Lord doesn't pull us away from anything we wouldn't be better off without! Sin, ignorance, unbelief, the danger of hell and the pollutions of the world, the Lord calls us out of all of them.
He also calls us to some things,
"Holiness and glory".
I don't like the phone to ring while I'm eating dinner, but if the man on the other end was an attorney telling me I'd come into a big inheritance, I'd be happy for it. But that's what the Effectual Call does for us. It calls us away from lesser things to the richest blessings God can give us.
No one is perfect, of course, but have you been called from sin and to holiness? Outwardly, the Bible calls you, your friends call you, your own conscience calls you, even. But have you been effectually out of sin and into holiness? If you haven't, you've not received the effectual call, without which there is no salvation.
Watson then goes on to the qualities of the call. He says it is,
"A powerful call. God not only morally persuades
the sinner, He rides forth conquering in the
chariot of His Gospel".
This is very encouraging to us when we witness. If you're like me, you often feel ashamed of yourself after you've spoken up for Christ-you've left so much out, you've said things the wrong way, you've not been patient enough; your life has not consistently backed up your witness. If it were I calling sinners to faith, no one would come! But I'm not doing the calling; it is God! And, though He uses me and you, He is not dependent on us! He can effectually call sinners to faith--even when we royally mess things up! It's a powerful call.
It's also a
"High calling, because we are called to high
privileges; to justification and adoption, to be
kings and priests unto God, to have fellowship
with angels, to be co-heirs with Christ.They
who are effectually called are princes, though
Who are we to receive such a calling? To be singled out for glory? If we meditated on the honor God bestows on us by calling us to Himself, we'd serve Him more than we do-and more eagerly.
Thirdly, it is an
"Immutable call. God never repents of
calling a sinner to be a saint".
People called into God's service are never discarded by their Master. He may chasten us; He may disqualify us from certain works, but He never rejects us! Not now; not ever.
This gives great comfort and real assurance.
Watson closes the chapter with several uses or applications. Here are some of them:
"Let such as are called be thankful to God for
that unspeakable blessing. Be thankful to all
the Persons of the Trinity-- Father's mercy,
the Son's merit, to the Spirit's efficacy.
To make you thankful, consider, when you had
Offended God, He called you. When God did not
Need you-He had millions of glorified saints
And angels to praise Him-he called you".
Watson has hit on something here-something we're apt to forget. God called us-not when we were at our best-but when we were at our worst! Think of a king with thousands of brave and true men, anxious to do his will. But the king doesn't call on his knights and counselors, but he goes to the gallows where a rebel is about to be hanged, and calls him to the high privilege of royal service.
That is precisely what God has done for us-taken us off the gallows and put us into His service. And then rewarding us for it! That's the first use; here's another,
"Walk worthily of your high calling. Walk
compassionately and walk in holiness".
The criminal saved from the noose and put into the king's service ought to do what the king wants him to do. If the Lord calls you out of sin and misery and into His glorious kingdom, you ought to pity the lost and live a life of consistent godliness.
Finally, we have,
"The test of our effectual calling. He who is
effectually called answers God's call and stops
his ears to all other calls which would call him
The Lord Jesus said,
"My sheep hear My voice, but a stranger's
voice they do not know".
Your effectual calling is thus put on trial: Have you answered God's call-and come out of sin and into His happy service? And then, have you stayed in His service-or have the sirens songs of the world drawn you back?
The Lord is like the ship Paul was on. Unless you stay in the ship, you cannot be saved. Boarding it isn't enough; buying a ticket isn't enough; you've got to stay on board-or you will perish in your sin!
If the TV is calling you away from Christ, turn it off. If the Internet is calling you away, unplug it. If your friends are calling you away, find new friends. If your own lusts and ambitions and dreams are calling you away from Christ, mortify them!
I know you've been called outwardly-I've done that many times. But have you been called effectually? If you have, give thanks. But if you haven't humble yourself and ask God to do it. He will. And you'll be saved.
The love of God be with you.
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