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A SYSTEMATIC STUDY OF BIBLE DOCTRINE
By T.P. Simmons
The Outward and Inward Calls
Election has to do with the purposing and planning of salvation.
The atonement has to do with the provision of it. We come now to
study the application and communication of salvation to the elect.
I. THE OUTWARD CALL
The Scripture clearly speaks of two different calls. The first one in the order of occurrence is known generally as the outward or external call. The following Scriptures refer to this call: (Isa. 45:22; 55:6; Matt. 9:13; 11:28; 22:14; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32; Rev. 22:17). There are other Scriptures that evidently refer to both calls. These are reserved until we take up the inward call.
1. THE CALL IS THROUGH THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL.
It was by means of the gospel that Jesus called sinners to repentance. Today every presentation of the gospel is a call to men to forsake sin and trust Christ. The preaching of the gospel is also properly attended by a setting forth of man’s need of salvation and of his duty and responsibility under God to repent and believe, (Acts 17:30). There should also be the earnest entreaty to men to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20) and an invitation to all that labor, (Matt. 11:28), and are athirst, (Isa. 55:1; John 7:37; Rev. 22:17).
2. THIS CALL IS AN INDIRECT CALL OF THE SPIRIT.
See the discussion of the indirect work of the Spirit in the lost in Chapter IX.
3. THIS CALL, THEREFORE, IS GENERAL.
By this we mean that it is not confined to the elect, (Matt. 22:14). We are commanded to preach the gospel to all. This call is intended for all men, though all do not hear it. This is true just as all men are commanded to repent, (Acts 17:30), even though all men do not hear this command.
4. THIS CALL, OF ITSELF, IS ALWAYS INEFFECTIVE.
To Israel God said: “When I called, ye did not answer,” (Isa. 65:12). The call referred to here was an outward call similar to the call now under discussion. Because of man’s depravity, the preaching of the gospel alone is never sufficient to bring him to Christ. He needs more than an outward call. The gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” (Rom. 1:16); but “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged,” (1 Cor. 2:14). Man must be enabled to turn from sin and believe on Christ, (Jer. 13:23; John 12:39, 40; 6:44, 65).
Nevertheless it is the immediate duty of all to accept this call, (Acts 17:30).
5. THIS CALL IS SINCERE.
Arminians object that the Calvinistic system of doctrine makes a general call insincere. Sincere means “being in reality as in appearance. Intending precisely what one says or what one appears to intend.” Having defined the term under discussion, we are now prepared to examine into the exact grounds of this objection. Three Calvinistic teachings are pointed out as rendering a general call insincere. They are:
(1) The teaching that man by nature is unable to turn from sin to Christ.
Arminians say if the case with the natural man were such as Calvinists represent it, and this were fully known to God, then God could not be sincere in inviting men to come to Christ. But there is nothing in the general call that makes it appear that all men are able to respond to it. This is nothing more than an unwarranted inference. And it has its foundation, not in the call itself, but in an erroneous conception of man’s state by nature. Hence this call is not insincere.
“God’s call to all men to repent and to believe the gospel is no more insincere than His command to all men to Love Him with all the heart. There is no obstacle in the way of men’s obedience to the gospel, that does not exist to prevent their obedience to the law. If it is proper to publish the commands of the law, it is proper to publish the invitations of the gospel. A human being may be perfectly sincere in giving an invitation which he knows will be refused. He may desire to have the invitation accepted, while yet he may, for certain reasons of justice and personal dignity, be unwilling to put forth special efforts, aside from the invitation itself, to secure the acceptance of it on the part of those to whom it is offered” (Strong).
Does God’s invitation or call to all men any more appear to indicate that all men can accept it than His command to all men to love Him supremely appears to indicate that all men can do it?
(2) The teaching as to God’s elective purpose to save only a portion of Adam’s race.
Arminians say if God has purposed to save only a portion of Adam’s race, then He cannot sincerely invite all men to come to Christ for salvation. Let it first be remarked as to this phase of the objection that the objector, to have even the semblance of consistency, must deny the foreknowledge of God. For, if God foreknew everything, then He certainly foreknew that all men would not believe the gospel, since we see that all do not. And certainly no evangelical would say that God purposed to save those who reject the gospel. So, if the foreknowledge of God be true, then God purposed to save only a part of Adam’s race, believers. Hence consistency demands that the Arminian surrender either this phase of the objection or else surrender the foreknowledge of God. He cannot be logical and hold both.
(3) The doctrine of a limited atonement.
This was touched on in relation to the sincerity of God’s general call through the gospel in the previous chapter. However we give it further brief notice. If one is going before a large number of people to offer to each one of them a ten-dollar bill, and he has inerrant knowledge beforehand that only a hundred out of that number will accept his offer, need he in order to make a sincere offer to all have more than one hundred ten-dollar bills? Surely not! Knowing that he has a sufficient number to supply all that will accept the offer, he can most freely and sincerely say, “Let every one of you that desires a ten-dollar bill come to me and I will give you one.” Is it not manifest to all who can think logically that, in a case such as is described above, the failure of all the people except the hundred to receive a ten-dollar bill would be due to their refusal of the offer, and not to lack of provision?
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