THERE IS AN EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL CALL OF THE GOSPEL
compiled by Michael Jeshurun
Those who insist that grace can be resisted are usually the ones who do not DIFFERENTIATE between the EXTERNAL CALL of the Gospel and the EFFECTUAL CALL!
In order to protect the idol of man’s own ability and of his good will as being the cause of his own salvation, the Arminians would prefer to do away with the distinction between the external and internal call, between the non-effectual and the effectual call. They would view them as being the same, and thus recognize only one calling. The effect would then not be due to the efficacious operation of God working more in one person than in another. Instead, it would be related to the outcome; namely, that the one person obeys the call by his free will (which enables him either to respond or to reject this call) and thus be saved. Another person will despise and reject this call by the same neutral free will. Scripture, however, rebukes and refutes such foolish thoughts and demonstrates first of all that the calling is effectual unto salvation as a result of God’s purpose, “…who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28); “for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29).
The actual exercise of faith in those who are called proceeds from this purpose. “And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Scripture conveys in the second place that there is no distinction in man himself, but that this distinction originates with God. “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). Man, however, by attributing the cause of one having more faith than another to his goodness and power, would create such a distinction. There is thus a calling which is of an effectual nature and penetrates the inner man—his intellect, will, and inclinations, changing and sanctifying them. This is the internal call . And this call is both effectual and IRRESISTIBLE!
But there is a GENERAL CALLING by means of the Word of God which is not accompanied by God’s effectual operation (which generates faith and love), but which comes to the external ear only. It leaves man in his natural state, who, in his wickedness, REJECTS THIS EXTERNAL CALL. He despises this call due to his free will which wills by way of necessary consequence. This is true of most who are called (Matt. 22:5, 14).
All the scripture verses quoted above by John Henry DO NOT refer to the internal call, nor to the moment of spiritual transformation, nor to regeneration. Instead, these texts refer to the EXTERNAL CALL only! This is the Word going out in WORD ONLY without the power, the effectual working of the Spirit or much assurance! The Apostle reminded the Thessalonians that he knew that were the elect of God because – “Knowing, brethren beloved, your ELECTION of God. Because our gospel came not unto you in WORD ONLY, but also IN POWER, and in the Holy Ghost, and in MUCH ASSURANCE “! [1Thes 1:4,5]
It goes without saying that to the majority the Word or the Gospel comes in WORD ONLY! And this ‘Word’ or ‘Gospel’ can and is rejected!
We readily admit that the person who is not elected resists this call, for the carnal mind is enmity against God. The natural man hates both God and holiness, and can do nothing else but reject and resist this offer. It does not follow, however, that those who are regenerated would be able to resist the omnipotent operation of the Holy Spirit, whereby He makes a dead person alive, and from being unwilling, to be willing. This we deny, and these texts do not suggest this.
Consider all this together for a moment. Man is as blind, evil, impotent, and dead as has been stated above. God permits the gospel to be preached to many, but this has no effect upon most who hear it. However, others are converted because God joins His Holy Spirit to that Word, working in them what He does not work in others. He illuminates them with a marvelous light which He does not do unto others. He removes the heart of stone from them and gives them a heart of flesh, not doing so to others. He works in them to will and to do the work of faith with power, not doing so in others. It is thus an irrefutable fact that God interacts with the heart of man in an immediate sense and thus changes it.
The Arminians deny this, but we confirm this. Man by nature hates God and is opposed to God, His Word, and the gospel. Such is the state of all men. If, however, the one person is converted and not the other, this is not to be attributed to man—as if it were true that the one accepts this grace by his free will and the other rejects it; rather this is to be attributed to the effectual operation of God, who works one thing in the one and not in the other. He not only effectually illuminates the intellect—doing so irresistibly—and irresistibly activates man’s inclinations, but He also irresistibly works upon the unwilling will in such a manner that the will wills voluntarily.
“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”! [Rom 9:16] “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”! [Phil 2:13]