Thursday, November 10, 2011

Effectual Calling and Human Inability

The Westminster Confession of Faith defines Effectual Calling by which God calls those that are saved as: "All those—and only those—whom God has predestined to life, he is pleased to call effectually in his appointed time, by his Word and Spirit. He calls them from the state of sin and death—in which they are by nature—to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.  In this calling, God enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly, so that they understand the things of God.  He takes away their hearts of stone and gives them hearts of flesh, renews their wills, and by his almighty power turns them to do what is good and effectually draws them to Jesus Christ.  Yet he does this in such a way that they come most freely, being made willing by his grace."  I found this quote by Charles Spurgeon that I think illustrates this perfectly:

"The first thing the Holy Spirit does when he comes into a man's heart is this: he finds him with a very good opinion of himself: and there is nothing which prevents a man coming to Christ like a good opinion of himself. Why, says man, "I don't want to come to Christ. I have as good a righteousness as anybody can desire. I feel I can walk into heaven on my own rights." The Holy Spirit lays bare his heart, lets him see the loathsome cancer that is there eating away his life, uncovers to him all the blackness and defilement of that sink of hell, the human heart, and then the man stands aghast. "I never thought I was like this. Oh! those sins I thought were little, have swelled out to an immense stature. What I thought was a mole-hill has grown into a mountain; it was but the hyssop on the wall before, but now it has become a cedar of Lebanon. Oh," saith the man within himself, "I will try and reform; I will do good deeds enough to wash these black deeds out." Then comes the Holy Spirit and shows him that he cannot do this, takes away all his fancied power and strength, so that the man falls down on his knees in agony, and cries, "Oh! once I thought I could save myself by my good works, but now I find that
"Could my tears for ever flow,
Could my zeal no respite know,
All for sin could not atone,
Thou must save and thou alone.'"
Then the heart sinks, and the man is ready to despair. And saith he, "I never can be saved. Nothing can save me." Then, comes the Holy Spirit and shows the sinner the cross of Christ, gives him eyes anointed with heavenly eye-salve, and says, "Look to yonder cross. that Man died to save sinners; you feel that you are a sinner; he died to save you." And he enables the heart to believe, and to come to Christ. And when it comes to Christ, by this sweet drawing of the Spirit, it finds "a peace with God which passeth all understanding, which keeps his heart and mind through Jesus Christ our Lord." Now, you will plainly perceive that all this may be done without any compulsion. Man is as much drawn willingly, as if he were not drawn at all; and he comes to Christ with full consent, with as full a consent as if no secret influence had ever been exercised in his heart. But that influence must be exercised, or else there never has been and there never will be, any man who either can or will come to the Lord Jesus Christ."

The first thing I have noticed about us is that, after hearing someone preach the gospel and talk about sin, we tend to defend ourselves by thinking, "OK. I acknowledge that I am this "sinner" person you are talking about, but I have Jesus in my heart. I mean, I made a profession when I was 10, got baptized and now I am a Christian. All my sins were forgiven through Jesus Christ on the Cross."

"Well, how about your life? Are you living in obedience to the Word of God?" You say, "Of course I am. I share my faith, go to church and go to Mexico every year on a mission trip. I don't drink too much beer or  curse all the time.  I am struggling with pornography but I am going to church.  If I repent of my sin then I am forgiven, right?"  Mind you, if you are a Christian, it doesn't mean you have changed your inate nature and everything you desire is somehow sactified by some mystical magic that God performs, but your desire is holiness if you are a Christian and you will desire to destroy it rather than leave it in your life.

Consider the following quote by John Owen:
"Indwelling sin always abides whilst we are in this world; therefore it is always to be mortified. The vain, foolish, and ignorant disputes of men about perfect keeping the commands of God, of perfection in this life, of being wholly and perfectly dead to sin, I meddle not now with. It is more than probable that the men of those abominations never knew what belonged to the keeping of any one of God’s commands, and are so much below perfection of degrees, that they never attained to a perfection of parts in obedience or universal obedience in sincerity. And, therefore, many in our days who have talked of perfection have been wiser, and have affirmed it to consist in knowing no difference between good and evil. Not that they are perfect in the things we call good, but that all is alike to them, and the height of wickedness is their perfection. Others who have found out a new way to it, by denying original, indwelling sin, and attempering the spirituality of the law of God unto men’s carnal hearts, as they have sufficiently discovered themselves to be ignorant of the life of Christ and the power of it in believers, so they have invented a new righteousness that the gospel knows not of, being vainly puffed up by their fleshly minds. For us, who dare not be wise above what is written, nor boast by other men’s lives of what God hath not done for us, we say that indwelling sin lives in us, in some measure and degree, whilst we are in this world. We dare not speak as “though we had already attained, or were already perfect,” Phil. iii. 12. Our “inward man is to be renewed day by day” whilst here we live, 2 Cor. iv. 16; and according to the renovations of the new are the breaches and decays of the old. Whilst we are here we “know but in part,” 1 Cor. xiii. 12, having a remaining darkness to be gradually removed by our “growth in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Pet. iii. 18; and “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, so that we cannot do the things that we would,” Gal. v. 17: and are therefore defective in our obedience as well as in our light, 1 John i. 8. We have a “body of death,” Rom. vii. 24; from whence we are not delivered but by the death of our bodies, Phil. iii. 21. Now, it being our duty to mortify, to be killing of sin whilst it is in us, we must be at work. He that is appointed to kill an enemy, if he leave striking before the other ceases living, doth but half his work, Gal. vi. 9; Heb. xii. 1; 2 Cor. vii. 1."

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