Volume. XXIX, No. 1
Sunday, 06 July 2014


RESPONDING TO GODS INVITATION?


When you receive an invitation, how do you decide whether or not you will accept it? We accept invitations for a variety of reasons. I suggest several: Who has made the invitation? What am I being invited to do? Where is the activity to be held? Who is going to be there? When is it taking place? How will this affect my other plans? Is there a cost for accepting? What if I reject the invitation? Probably none of us accepts every invitation we receive. From the publicly displayed advertisement to the politician’s invitation to an event, to the invitation to a close friend’s wedding or birthday celebration, we make choices for diverse reasons.

 

We approach the most significant invitation we will ever receive in John 5:24-25 where Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. We have an invitation from Jesus for those who hear with a promise for those who hear and believe.

 

We come to the fourth of the five points in our continuing series of studies giving an overview of the Five Points of Calvinism: “Irresistible Grace” or “The Effectual Call.” Again, remember that this is the response given to the third of “the five points” of Arminianism. Below I have posted the summary of the two positions on the call of the Gospel.

 

The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted

 

The Spirit calls inwardly all those who are called outwardly by the gospel invitation; He does all that He can to bring every sinner to salvation. But inasmuch as man is free, he can successfully resist the Spirit’s call. The Spirit cannot regenerate the sinner until he believes; faith (which is man’s contribution) precedes and makes possible the new birth. Thus, man’s free will limits the Spirit in the application of Christ’s saving work. The Holy Spirit can only draw to Christ those who allow Him to have His way with them. Until the sinner responds, the Spirit cannot give life. God’s grace, therefore, is not invincible; it can be, and often is, resisted and thwarted by man.

 

The Efficacious Call of the Spirit or Irresistible Grace

 

In addition to the outward general call to salvation which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. The external call (which is made to all without distinction) can be, and often is, rejected; whereas the internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion. By means of this special call the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man’s will, nor is He dependent upon man’s cooperation for success. The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ. God’s grace, therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.

 

Source: Graceonlinelibrary.org

 

Let us consider several questions to help think through this subject: How does one “hear” the invitation? Does everyone “hear” the invitation with equal clarity? When people “hear” why does one person accept the invitation when another rejects it? We find help from the Apostle Paul to work through this idea in his letter to the Romans 10:13-18: For whosover shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in 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? and how shall they preach except they be sent? ...So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. The invitation to believe on Jesus for eternal salvation is extended to all humankind. Earlier in the letter Paul had affirmed that the Gospel was powerful and effective for all people, whether Jewish or Gentile (Rom 1:16). Furthermore he had noted that all the human family is responsible before God for the evidence of His existence that is available to all in the created world (Rom 1:18-20). Yet with the available information, humankind has deliberately rejected the witness and embraced other gods of their making as a substitute for trusting the Creator God (Rom 1:21-25). So to some degree, every person is aware of the existence of God, but she or he may not know God in a saving relationship.

 

Given those conditions, something must be done specifically to break into the hardened hearts of humankind to make us respond to God. That is what we find in His invitation cited from John’s Gospel and in the passage from Romans 10. The external work is that of the created world and the spoken word of some preacher who speaks to a person. Internally there must be a work by the Holy Spirit convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11). Even allowing that the Holy Spirit is invisibly at work in the heart of the hearer to apply God’s truth, can a person resist His work? On the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit’s ministry was unleashed, the Apostle Peter concluded his appeal to the thousands gathered in Jerusalem that day: Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 2:38-39).

 

A clear example of this calling is the conversion of the Apostle Paul, recorded in Acts 9. As a devout Jew, he was en route to Damascus to seize and arrest those who believed on Jesus Christ. Before reaching his destination, he was confronted by a light from heaven, so overpowering that he fell to the earth. He heard a voice calling to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? For Saul/Paul, there was no resisting. His defences were overpowered. He cried unto God for direction and willingly obeyed what he was told. The result? He was wonderfully converted. In Acts 16 we read of the conversion a businesswoman working away from home, in Philippi: And a certain woman named Lydia ...which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul (v.14).

 

As we noted in our previous article, not everyone is saved, so here again, not everyone is called in this same way. For the call to be effective, it must overcome the defences and distractions in ones heart in order for her or him to be saved. When God calls to salvation, he gets the attention of the one He is calling. The evidence of that work is in the willing, believing response of the person who is born again. The most important question I raise for you dear reader is: Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ in order that you might be saved?

 

Hoping to point you to Christ,

Dr Carl Martin
(New Life BPC, London)

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster Leader: Today: Volunteer. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Boong Atijatuporn.

*Hospitality Roster for Preacher Hai Seng Lim from 12 - 19 July: There are a few slots left for dinner invites. Please show your hospitality to our VBS guest speaker.

*Combined YAF-AFG Activity: Please bring food for picnic & board games.

*Saturday Theology Class for men starts at 6:15 am sharp. All men are requested to attend. Please be punctual.

*No Tiny Tots Sing-a-long this Friday.

*ACM Proxy Nomination forms available on the foyer table for those who are unable to attend.

*2013 Christmas Concert & 2014 Family Bible Church Camp Media Order forms available on the foyer table. Please note: closing date for orders is next Lord’s Day.

*Adult & Junior RPGs for next QTR available on foyer table. Donation: $1 per copy.

 

 Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Bro Houston Li & Sis Jan Sing; Bro Aaron & Sis Monica Tan & family; Bro David & Sis Susan Weng & family (Adl); Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo/Adl) & Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl); Sisters Hui Peng Peh (S’pore), Mary Ting (Adl) & Serene Wong (Adl/S’pore); & others who have arrived safely at their destinations. 

2. Church activities in the past week.

3. Ministry in Ebenezer BPC (Melb): Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe.

4. Visitors & new worshippers.

5. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

6. 35th Anniversary Thanksgiving: Calvary Pandan BPC (S’pore).

 

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Herbert (Dilly) Anderson (Kenya), Raymond Ang’s father (S’pore), Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore); Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Queenie Lau, Choon Fong Lee (KL), Iris Surman’s brother, Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi, Susan Weng & Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong; Mr Lucas Lee; Mr Tony Zhang; Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Mumbai); & others in affliction.

2. God’s strength, guidance & provision: Sis WolHee Kim & her two daughters (S Korea).

3. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry & VBS Ministry in Hope BPC: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

4. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry; Bro Sun Sokha & Ministry (Phnom Penh)

5. New Life BPC (London) - strength & encouragement for congregation; Resident Preacher Mok.

6. Laos Missions: Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry

7. Future ministry - God’s provision & guidance for Bro David & Sis Susan Weng. 

8. Journey mercies: Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe (Holland); Preacher Hai Seng Lim (Adl); Deaconess Purdee Yeo (Chile); Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo/Adl) & Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl); Sis Mary Ting (Sabah) & others travelling during university & school vacation period.

9.  Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

10.  Preparation for caesarean this week: Sis May Lau

11.  Health in pregnancy: Sis Tabitha Tan.

12.  PR application: Bro William Song; Sisters Xiao     Hui Chye & Yashu Qin.

13.  Scholarship application: Sis Katrina Loh.

14.  Vacation Bible Study: organizers, helpers & children.

15. Chile Missions with the Bjurs Ministry: Deaconess Purdee Yeo - healing, God’s guidance & protection.

16.  Believers suffering persecution in Islamic & Communist Countries.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063