Our God is the living God.
Before Him the angels hide their faces in holy adoration, the saints in heaven bow in humble worship, the devils and the wicked tremble, and. the church on earth rejoices to behold His salvation.
The living God is the calling God, who calls the things that are not as though they were. For He needs but to speak and it is! He commands and it stands forth. He quickens the dead. He makes Him, self a peculiar people that can declare His praises forever. He makes all things new. He reveals His glory in all the works of His hands, that in adoration we may declare: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy Name in all the earth!”
The living God, the Creator, calls.
In the beginning God. created, called into being this present universe by the word of His power. The Almighty said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. By His powerful word He spread out the broad expanse of the heavens, He called forth the dry land out of the water, He produced grass and herbs and trees as food for man and beast. God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night,” and the sun appeared, the moon took form, and all the stars of the heavens stood in their places. That same word called forth the birds and the fishes, and animals of every sort. And by that word man came into being in God’s own image and likeness to have dominion over all the earthly creation as God’s friend-servant. The Psalmist can truthfully say, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made: and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. . . .For he spake, and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:6, 9.
Unbelief can never understand this. The unbeliever likes to convince himself that things simply evolve out of themselves. The wonder of the universe is that mere things come into existence and develop, reproduce and bring forth still more wonderful things by mere chance and circumstance. Hut the believer looks to God Who needs but to speak and it is, and confesses that this whole creation is a wonder of our God, an amazing wonder, of His power and greatness, brought forth in a mere six days. As Scripture itself expresses it, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Heb. 11:3.
This becomes even more significant to us when we realize that Christ is that Word of power whereby God created all things in the beginning. John opens his gospel account with the remarkable statement, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”John 1:1-3. This shows us that the triune God made the heavens and the earth. The Father sent forth the Word, the Son, and the Son worked mightily through the Holy Spirit Who moved upon the earth. See Gen. 1:1-3. But this also informs us that Christ already then stood before God as the Firstborn, the Head of His church, by whom and unto Whom all things were made. Col. 1:15-19. This present creation is a most perfect picture of the creation to come, and even serves to bring forth the day when all things shall be made new. God knows the end from the beginning; His counsel stands, and He does all His good pleasure in almighty power and infinite wisdom. He is the calling God.
But we should also consider in passing that even in creation the living God continues to carry out that which His hand has begun. Even the continued existence and life of the creatures is from God.
There is a calling of God in the sphere of God’s providence, in nature and in history. Providence is that almighty and omnipresent power of God whereby He continually speaks and it is, He commands and it stands forth. He waters the hills from His chambers; He causes the grass to grow, so that the earth brings forth abundantly. He crowns the year with His goodness, His paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side. He clothes the pastures with flocks, the valleys with corn: they shout for joy, they even sing. Psalm 104 and Psalm 65.
Scripture even informs us that God carries out His providence through rational, moral creatures, men and angels alike. God calls each creature to occupy his own place in the course of history, each to serve his own appointed purpose in the realization of the eternal glory of God’s Name. The angels are so many ministering spirits, who eagerly wait upon God’s bidding and are always carrying out the work that is entrusted to them. We may often wonder how those many millions of angels are all daily occupied, each according to his ability and position, to help toward the salvation of the church and the coming of the Lord. Yet we know that they are just as eager for the coming of the kingdom as we are; and possibly more so. They are always busy consciously and willingly performing the duties which they alone can perform. Even the devils in hell, in spite of themselves, are called to serve that God’s name may be glorified. Although Satan is always plotting and scheming as the great antagonist of God, employing all his demons to destroy God’s Name and to wipe out His cause from the earth, he not only fails miserably, but even serves God’s purpose toward the coming of the day of the Lord. We have a clear example of that in the cross. The devil united all his forces to destroy the Christ, the Anointed of God. He aroused the whole world against the Christ, so that they stood as one man in a united effort to kill Him and silence His witness forever. And yet “of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were g at h e red together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” Acts 4:27, 28. We know that God raised Pharaoh to the exalted position as king of Egypt to oppress the people of God for the very purpose that God might show His power through him, and that God’s Name might be declared throughout all the earth. Rom. 9:17. Also Cyrus, king of Persia, was but a tool in the hand of the Almighty to subdue nations before Him. He is called God’s servant, whose right hand God holds. The living God declares: “For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.”
Since this earthly creation is given to us as a picture of the spiritual and heavenly, all these examples of the powerful, efficacious calling of God in creation and history are so many pictures of the spiritual and abiding calling. Things happen in parables, that those who have eyes may see, behold, and wonder in holy adoration at the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. That which no eye hath seen, no ear hath heard, and never entered into the heart of man is revealed to us by God Himself that we may know and confess Him as God alone, Whose is the praise and the glory forever.
The living God, the Recreator, also calls.
There is an efficacious calling that raises the dead sinner out of death into life. Abraham was given a very concrete demonstration of this powerful calling in the birth of Isaac, the promised seed. Although Abraham was a hundred years old and Sarah was ninety, so that they were beyond the age of producing an offspring, God brought life out of death by giving them the wonder child Isaac in their old age. God performed this wonder even as he had promised, because in the loins of Abraham was the Wonder child, Jesus, Who should be born of the virgin. And Romans 4:17 tells us that in saving faith Abraham believed God. He believed God “who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”
God performs this same wonder of His calling every time an elect sinner is regenerated. And I am referring now to the calling that even precedes the call of the gospel. It is the same powerful voice that was so graphically portrayed to us by the Lord Himself when He stood at the grave of Lazarus and caused His life-giving power to enter into the corpse of His departed friend, to arouse him to hear, to respond, to open his eyes, to stand on his feet, and to come forth from the grave still wrapped in the linens of his burial. Even by that same power God raises the dead sinner from spiritual death into spiritual life. For the dead hear the voice of the Son of God, and live. Christ arouses the sinner out of his spiritual death-sleep, even before he can hear the gospel, saying, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.” The result is a new birth, a recreation.
To use another figure, Scripture explains to us that God implants the seed of life in our hearts while we are still dead in trespasses and sins. We are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, which abides forever. We become new creatures in Christ with a new, heavenly life within us. And this is the work solely of God, through Christ, the Word of God, who lives and abides forever. I Peter 1:25.
But there is still another calling of God, which is far more familiar to us and which takes place through the preaching of the Word. This calling comes to us as the outward call of the gospel, which is applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. The Spirit uses the Word to enlighten our understanding, to turn our will, and to translate us from darkness into God’s marvelous light. As the result of this calling we are brought to conversion and to conscious faith in God and in Christ.
Concerning this calling Paul writes in Romans 8:29, 30, “For whom he (God) did foreknow, he also did predestinate. . . . destinate, Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” And the apostle Peter assures us that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, for the very purpose that we should “shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” And the prophet Isaiah, comforts the saints in the midst of severest trials and sufferings with the assurance, “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine!”
This calling is always powerful. The Word of the living God never returns void. His Word is a power unto salvation to all who believe, and that same Word works condemnation for those who reject it in unbelief.
This calling is, therefore, also efficacious. A human word is spoken and soon forgotten. A mere offer depends upon the recipient to accept or reject it. An assurance from the lips of the preacher that God loves you and that Christ died for you means nothing to the sinner who hates God and cherishes his sins. A mere assurance of man means nothing even to the regenerated sinner who is burdened with the load of sin and guilt. How can God love such a sinner as I am? How can I ever accept the assurance that Christ died for such a miserable wretch as I am? But God’s Word is powerful. He awakens in us the consciousness of sin and guilt, because He first implants His love in our hearts. And He who arouses us to a consciousness of our own wretchedness also assures us that our sins, be they ever so many, are forgiven. Just as Jesus called the sin-burdened sinner to Him while He was still on earth, He now calls through His Word and by His Spirit in our hearts: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Thus God’s calling is always sovereign. He is not dependent upon the persuasive powers of a preacher, nor upon the will of those who hear the Word. He who causes His Word to be preached also declares by His Spirit in the heart of His elect, regenerated child all the words of eternal life. He causes the Word to bring forth fruit unto repentance and salvation. “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”