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The True Gospel Series
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The True Gospel

The Call of God

All scripture references are from the NASV unless otherwise noted.

Now that we've got the definitions out of the way, we can begin to look at the saving faith of our father Abraham, and the steps that he took in his journey to know God. As we look at these eternal principles, we will see some of the principles of salvation and the true gospel message. Regarding Abraham, the apostle Paul wrote the following: ..."that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised" (Rom. 4:11, 12). The very first step of the faith of our father Abraham is the first step in any person's journey to know God, and that first step is the Call of God that brings true conversion.

In Genesis 12:1 we read of the first time that God spoke to Abraham: "Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you.'" This is a perfect picture of the call of God that comes to a lost sinner, bringing the new birth. The scripture says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Faith is a gift of God, and saving faith comes as a result of God speaking a word of living faith into the heart of a person, bringing them from death to life, just as we read in Ezekiel chapter 16 where God said, "I passed by you and found you in your uncleanness and death, and I said unto you live."

I hear people tell of their "conversion" experience and they often say things like, "I went down front and prayed the sinner's prayer." Or, "The preacher said that we don't know what tomorrow may bring, and we need to make sure that if we were to die tomorrow, we would go to heaven, so I became a Christian." Or, "I got baptized." That's all very nice, but when I hear things like that, I always think, "That's nice, I'm glad you did that, but what did God do?" You see, true conversion is God doing something, not us doing something. The Lord spoke to Abraham.

The scripture says, "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:11-13). Jesus said that we must be born again and that for those born of God, they are born not of blood (you can't inherit it), nor of the will of the flesh (you can't bring about the new birth by an act of your will), nor of the will of man (no one else can bring about the new birth for you by an act of their will), but by an act of God's will. Jesus said, "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will" (John 5:21 NKJV). James 1:18 says, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (NKJV).

I am not teaching Calvinism, or any other ism. I'm trying to convey the idea that in spite of all a person's best efforts at turning to Christ, the new birth experience is just that, an experience, and it is something that only God can do of His own will, as it says in James. We needn't ever assume that the new birth experience has taken place because of man's actions, no matter how sincere, but must ask ourselves, "Did God do the tremendous miracle of the new birth?"

What then is man's responsibility? Doesn't man have a part to play as well? Acts 17:30 says, "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent..." God commands men to repent of their sins, and like the prodigal son, to get up out of the pigsty and leave it behind as they search for the Father. Somewhere along they way, the Father will meet them. My point is that the conversion is never true when a person "believes in Jesus", yet remains in the pigsty far from the Father. One must have an encounter with the Father, and that is a supernatural work of God. I believe in a supernatural God, and I believe in supernatural conversions. I believe in encounters with the living God.

In James 1:18 the scripture says that "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth". How did He bring to life those of us who were once dead in trespasses and sins and make us children of God? He begat or birthed us through the word of truth. God must speak a word of living faith into the heart of a person, and that spoken word of God brings them to new life and gives the gift of saving faith. In other words, God speaks to a person as He did to Abraham. "Now the Lord said to Abram..." (Ge. 12:1).

A person must hear the call of God, and the call of God to one who would truly have a saving faith that will stand the test of time is the same call that Abraham heard. There came a time in Abraham's life when it was no longer enough to hear the call that his father Terah heard from God, calling him to leave his land of birth and journey to Canaan. Abraham had to hear the call of God for himself. There must come a time in every person's life where they hear the call of Christ, "Come follow me." No man will every truly be converted hearing another man's call; all must have a word of living faith spoken into their own hearts. All must hear the call of Christ for themselves.

As a result of a powerless church's desire for converts, the modern American church has developed the modern gospel message; a hybrid message that "markets Christ" to a lost generation. She has learned to use the world's marketing techniques in order to convince a person that they need Jesus to escape hell, or to be healthy in body and relationships, or to live a life of blessing, or whatever she has determined that her customer truly desires. Have you ever dealt with someone who is selling a multi-level marketing plan? The first thing they do is ask you certain questions to determine what you truly want out of life, and then sell the program as the means for you to gain what you truly desire. The church has done the same with "Christianity" because she has no power to convince of sin, righteousness, and judgment or to truly reveal Christ to lost sinners. She must instead sell "Christianity" to those who do not yet desire it. In other words, she must use effective marketing techniques to convince sinners to embrace "Christianity". Because she has become adept at marketing "Christianity", the modern church has been able to convince many to pray the "sinner's prayer", or to "become a Christian" who have never had an encounter with the cross, heard the call of Christ, or like the prodigal son, repented and returned until they met the Father.

Jesus said, "You must be born again", and a person is born again "by the word of truth." God must speak. Like Abraham, a person must, in one form or another, hear the call of God. "Now the Lord said to Abram..."

In the next lesson we will examine the call of God that came to Abraham, and we will see how different that call is (the true call of Christ) from the call that so many "Christians" have heard and followed.

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