Openness of the Call
By W. T. Purkiser, Richard S. Taylor, and Willard H. Taylor

Having rejoiced over the election of the Thessalonian believers*, Paul explains: "To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." God did not call from heaven, a particular irresistible call, singling out His elect by name; He called them through the gospel ("by means of our Gospel preaching," Berk.). The gospel was preached to all who would hear, without partiality or discrimination, and its hope was offered equally to all.

Whether Paul included John 3:16 in his preaching or not, it belongs to the gospel: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Paul did announce that God "now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). Is not the call to repent a call also to believe? It was Jesus himself who preached to all, "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Could He have been guilty of double-talk, knowing that some who heard would be irresistibly caused to believe because they were intended to, while others would be left in unbelief because the call was not for them? Is the universal call inherent in the gospel proclamation authentic for some but inauthentic for others?

When Jesus told the parable of the king who sent his servants to bring into the wedding those who had been invited, it is clear that those who were first called were really on the king's list. Jesus gave no hint that the king knew in advance their refusal and engineered it. The simple wording is "Those invited were not worthy" (Matt. 22:8).

Unquestionably the unrestricted proclamation of the gospel call implies an equally unrestricted desire in the heart of God for a favor able response (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 2 Pet. 3:9). Whatever the terms pre destination and foreordination mean, they do not imply a final division of men predetermined arbitrarily by divine decree.


* This is a constant reference in the New Testament. The "new birth" is by the Spirit (John 3:5). It is by the Spirit that we are inducted into the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13), and also sanctified (2 Thess. 2:13; cf. 2 Cor. 3:3, 18; Titus 3:5). Here sanctification accomplished by the Spirit and faith on the human side are declared to be the means by which the purposed salvation becomes reality (cf. I Pet. 1:2). As for Ephesians, it is by the Spirit that we are "to be strengthened with might... in the inner man" (3:16), and it is by being "filled with the Spirit" (5:18) that we rise to the heights of holy and victorious living.

By W. T. Purkiser, Richard S. Taylor, and Willard H. Taylor, God, Man & Salvation, Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, copyright 1977, pages 428-9


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September 25, 2001