Spending as much time as I have in witnessing and eventually it’s inevitable that we would hit a wall. No matter how logically we presented the case, no matter the force of reason, no matter how clearly the mocker or scoffer we were talking to saw the force of the logic of what we were saying there remained a rejection of the message that we were preaching. I couldn’t understand it until I dug deeper into the Bible and discovered, I thought for the first time in history because I was raised in a Church that rejected Augustine, the doctrine of Vocation. Charles Hodge rightly observes that if we were left to ourselves there would be no inclination to be saved. The Bible rightly observes that in order for a person to be drawn to God that person must have God drawing them. We are so steeped in our own sin that without that pull we would never go to God.
It is by the Word of God that reality is made. The ancient Hebrews saw the power of the Word God and many of their mystics mistook the power to be latent in the words themselves rather than in the fact that these words came from God. The mystics saw that when God spoke things happened and so they wrongly assumed that the power was in the words. But the power was not in the words but it was in the fact that these words came from God. There is an assurance that when God calls an individual through His vocation that this calling will be fulfilled as surely as everything else in all creation must obey the Word of God.
Now there are different types of callings that God issues to mankind. On the one hand there is the general call that is given to all mankind that they would come and repent and believe by faith in the name of Christ. This call which is given to all mankind is called the External Call. This External Call is given even to those who are outside the Church. This External Call is not the same as the call of vocation which comes through predestination. In the Bible there are revelations which are given which can be freely read by all. But while there is a general understanding of some of the points of the Bible which unbelievers may have, there is never an acceptance of the truths of the Bible which can come to the heart of those who reject God.
Only the Bible can present the truths which unbelievers need in order to come to salvation. There is no way to come to a knowledge of what is necessary for salvation by looking at the moon or thinking about the stars. A person is not going to be looking at the waves someday and think to himself, “You know, I think there was a Jewish carpenter named Jesus who died on the cross for my sins and rose the third day from the dead.” And if a person was ever looking at the waves and came to that conclusion it would have nothing to do intrinsically within the waves, but it would’ve been because at some point that individual had been exposed to the message of the Gospel. There is still an external call that is given, and it has often puzzled me as to why the message was still given to all if the great majority were to reject its message. There is an irrationality amongst those who reject the call of God’s grace and this deliberate irrationality goes to show just how wicked the wicked really are in their stubborn rejection of God and makes their condemnation be shown to be all the more just for so foolishly rejecting the great gift of the mercy that God longs to show to the wickedest of sinners.
There is a great salvation that God provides to those of us who believe. Yet the mercy of God does not stop there. The mercy of God extends to the entire unbelieving world in that they exist: God does not immediately cast them off to hellfire the second they deserve it. The mercy of God also extends to the wicked in very basic ways such as the provision which God makes for them. A man may be wicked and yet he will recover from his cold by the mercy of God. The laws of the physical operation of the universe which God maintains allow the wicked to start his car in the morning. Without God’s mercy there is no guarantee that the wicked man’s radio station will even stay on the dials that the wicked man sets them to. There is nothing that forces God to prevent the radio station from simply being stuck on static rather than let the wicked man rejoice in the music which God allows the wicked man to delight in. And yet in all these things the mercy of God is put on the wicked at least for a time. When the wicked man dies all of his hopes are dashed, but in this life God gives the wicked man so many undeserved mercies in allowing him to enjoy the fruits of this life along with the righteous.
Beyond this general mercy which God extends to the whole universe, there is an Efficacious Grace which God mandates by His call. By His word, God renders certain that men will come to faith in the Gospel. In all of the witnessing that I have done no matter how many brick walls that I run into I have not given up because there is a promise that someday, somewhere someone will hear the message and will come to Christ. And in the meantime I will have had the chance to build the faith of so many including, especially my own faith. Yet the predestination of God guarantees that there will be success for the Gospel in the world that no matter what the odds, no matter how impossible it seems there will be success for the message of the Gospel. Yet the Efficacious Call of predestination is necessary that any would come and head the message of salvation because it would be impossible for the dead spiritually to do anything on their own behalf for their own salvation just as it would be easier for a physically dead person to will himself back to life. It just isn’t possible. None but God can breathe life into a spiritually dead soul.