by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 12 April 8, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
(394)Thesis:The "calling" of God is His way of bringing the "many brethren" into existence.
Introduction:In our last study we considered the focus of Paul's predestinarian perspective: God's intention of establishing Jesus as the "firstborn of many brethren". In that study I attempted to make the point that God is of such a nature that He simply does not permit "Love" to go unrequited and that He absolutely refuses to permit "evil" to succeed. Since Jesus loved to the point of the provision of a Substitutionary Atonement, the Father has highly exalted Him to the pinnacle of His Kingdom's glory. As that pinnacle, He has become the standard to which all of the heirs of the Kingdom will be conformed. When the Kingdom is finally established, every heir of it will love like Jesus loves and will believe what Jesus believes.
However, there is another side to this issue: the intense opposition to "Love" that "evil" brings to the table. But, in the declaration that for those who participate in "Love", all things work together unto good, there rises this truth also: God flatly will not permit evil to succeed against those who love. Nothing that "evil" brings to the table can subvert God's plans of good because He has both the superior intelligence and power to frustrate every evil intent. Now, it is true that this is not temporally absolute in that evil does accomplish Death, but in the longer term of the cause/effect streams that lead to final results, evil can not win against those who love. It obviously does win in a final sense in individual terms for those who do not come to Love, but even that is a hollow victory because evil thrives only in its aggression against God and when it is finally turned into the Lake of Fire it will not be able to have any Death impact upon God's Kingdom any more.
This evening, as we continue our studies (this is # 197), we are going to look a bit further into what I have dubbed "God's sub-methodologies" for bringing the Grand Plan to Perfection. We have already had an introduction to the focus of our study in that we looked briefly into Paul's "those who are the according-to-purpose called" in the context of his fantastic promise that all things work together for good for them. But, in that study we focused upon the issue of "purpose" rather than the issue of the calling, so this evening we are going to consider our "calling". Given Peter's exhortation in 2 Peter 1:10, this is no small matter and we need to understand as much as we can about it.
I. "Calling" Is a Sharpening of the Focus Upon the Demandingness of Truth.
A. In Romans 1:20 Paul declared that the Gospel is necessary because of an "against-knowledge" rebellion that exists in the heart of every human being prior to conversion.
1. Here Paul addresses the issue of "excusability" and it's necessary corollary of "consequences".
a. He had already declared in 1:18 that the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all who perpetrate ungodliness.
b. It is in that sense that "excusability" is addressed because if nothing is going to happen to one who is guilty, one needs no "excuse": it is because something is going to happen that an "excuse" is sought.
2. Here Paul claims that "inexcusability" arises out of the inescapable rationality of two creation-demonstrated truths: divine power and personality.
a. This means that everyone who lives in the context of this creation knows, at a level that leaves them without excuse, that they are creatures of a powerful Person to whom they have an inescapable obligation of absolute loyalty.
b. This also means that all of the sophistry of those who claim to be atheistic, agnostic, or "of a different religious persuasion than biblical Christianity" are simply participants in a vast smoke screen that is designed by evil to hinder the clarity of the knowledge.
3. But here also is this admitted: the knowledge that leaves one without excuse cannot save.
a. If creation-revelation is a sufficient instrument, there would be no need for the Gospel of 1:16-17 wherein is revealed the means to the righteousness that is of critical necessity for salvation.
b. If creation-revelation is a sufficient instrument of salvation, there is no need for a Bible, or any kind of "ministry" where the Bible's doctrines are proclaimed.
4. Therefore, we can conclude that there is a kind of "calling" in creation reality, but it is an indistinct sound from a far way off [like the fire siren at the fire station a couple of miles away].
B. In Romans 10:18, having established that the call of God is designed to create a reciprocal call by man for salvation, Paul clearly claims that "all have heard" because "their words went out unto the ends of the world".
1. The quote is from Psalm 19 and it refers to the testimony of day and night and the voiceless message of the stars, the greatest of which is the sun from whose heat no one escapes.
2. The point is that there is an inescapable message in the heat of the sun that both makes it possible for men to learn a great deal of the glory of God and makes him inexcusable if he refuses to apply himself to learn.
3. But, here again is this reality: the unspoken words do not have the potency of the written words of God. [This is like the scene of the incident to which the volunteers of the fire station have been summoned -- it is more concrete than the distant wailing of the siren, but it is still not "enough"].
a. Truth is inescapably demanding with consequences beyond comprehension for those who do not listen.
b. But, this demandingness does not do what the call of God does.
II. Calling Is a Personal Confrontation by God, Person to Person.
A. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 addresses a "more than words" confrontation by the Holy Spirit Who persuades, according to 1 Thessalonians 2:13, that the words of God are, in fact, the words of God.
B. Acts 16:14 speaks of Lydia, "whose heart the Lord opened to give heed to the things which were spoken by Paul".
C. Hebrews 3:7, 15; and 4:7 all indicate that there is a significant difference between hearing words and "hearing the voice of God".
III. The "Called" Are Everywhere in the New Testament Identified as Those Who Have Believed the Gospel.
IV. "Calling" is an Indispensable Element of the Process of God's Grand Plan.