When The King Calls

She had a beautiful voice, and she knew how to use it. 

It was one of those voices that stands out and makes you aware of the fact that here is something trulyexceptional. Hearing a voice like it you hold on with your soul to each note, and then enjoy the next one fully as much, even when the words are not understood. Not that she did not pronounce each syllable as perfectly and clearly as she sent forth from her mouth notes that were perfectly in pitch. But the full, rich sound would so grip you that you often forgot to listen to the words. 

Some would say it was prophetic. More likely it was a matter of wishful thinking that her parents, who likewise were skilled musicians, from the day of her birth called her Melody. It was to her, however, a matter of constant irritation to bear such a unique name; and early in those years when inescapably she became a teenager, she succeeded in getting her friends—and what was harder, her teachers—to call her Dee. 

It hardly need be stated that she was often featured in the high school programs both-within and without the school, except that this explains how she met Bill. Well, no, they would have met anyway, because they went to the same high school. And though they not only were members of different churches of denominations that differed greatly in their interpretation of Scripture, but also lived on opposite sides of the city, it was inevitable that they would be in the same class for various subjects. But because Bill was also a talented musician, who likewise could hold an audience spellbound, particularly when he played the organ, he was chosen to accompany Dee. He could make an organ talk. Give him an organ, large or small, he always managed to get something out of it that you were surprised was in that organ. This explains his role as accompanist for Dee, and why there sprang up a very intimate friendship between them. 

You might call it a “natural,” and say that they certainly were meant for each other. You could not rightly call it a “spiritual.” Bill had a very sound, strict and Biblical training. He knew the truths of his church, was well versed in the Scriptures, and not only knew the attacks upon the truth but how to refute them. For this reason he would never have sought an intimate friendship with Dee. For he knew the doctrinal position of her church and believed it to be dishonoring to God, as all false doctrines are. 

Dee, however, was not too particular about the words of the songs which she sang. The melody, the harmony and rhythm were the principal thing with her. It was the music, not the message, that determined for her whether she would sing the song or not. There was, for example, that song—to call it a hymn would not be correct at all—that has that terrible line in it that goes something like this, “Don’t spare me anything that you endured for me.” It made Bill shudder because he examined the words and tested them with Scripture. It was not simply that his church would not allow such words to be sung in or out of his church. Bill understood that Christ endured the awful torments of hell for us, and that it was a great sacrilege to pray to God in song that He would not spare us that terrible woe. He” understood that the work of Christ on the cross had for its purpose delivering us from that awful suffering. To his mind came the text of God Himself, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

When he and Dee went out, they often had some very lively arguments about the teachings of their respective churches. Her training was quite superficial, and Bill was able to get a few points across, and to open her eyes to the truths that she had never been taught. One evening she bluntly said that she did not believe all this stuff about many being called and few chosen, and believed that the doctrine of election was a theory drawn up by some who wanted to deny the responsibility of man. That is, she believed this until Bill pointed out to her that Jesus Himself had said in Matthew 20:16 that many are called and few are chosen, and again in Matthew 22:14 as well as in other passages. He also pointed out that Paul speaks in Ephesians 1:4 of some being chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world

There were times when they broke up because of their inability to agree on the proper interpretation of Scripture. Yet musically they needed each other and were soon back together again. Bill did refuse to go to prison with her, after she persuaded him to do so that one Sunday afternoon with a group of other young people. That night he asked her why they went to those who had fallen the lowest, and why they went to murderers and the vilest and most immoral people to tell them that God loves them and to offer salvation tothem, while they, on the way to prison, had not stopped to do this to those respectable, law-abiding but unchurched people that they had met. 

At times—and this bothered Bill no little—Dee spoke very flippantly and derisively of the sovereignty of God, and drew the point of the responsibility of man so far that by implication the sovereignty of God was completely denied. Bill strove patiently until he got her to see that if we lose the sovereignty of God, we have no responsibility of man left. “Look”, he said, “If God is not sovereign, why do we have to give answer to Him?” Dee was honest to admit this point, and Bill assured her that he did believe the responsibility of man. He quoted Luke 22:22 which declares that Judas betrayed Christ as God had determined it, but Jesus also adds, “Woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed,” and this speaks of man’s responsibility. 

But let’s face it, they were caught up in a natural love that always brought them together again. Bill’s parents sent many prayers to the throne of grace that Bill might not throw away the truth for a wife, and that he might remain firm in the truth. Dee’s parents were not that concerned. Being skilled musicians they took to Bill even with his different views of Scripture…” We are all going to the same place,” they said, “only on different roads.” And they did rather like the strict discipline maintained in Bill’s church. There was something good about that. “Better it is,” they philosophized, “to see her in a stricter church than in one more broadminded than our own.” 

As the hymn has it, “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.” The matter was quickly coming to a head. Bill and Dee were approached by a recording company and offered a contract to make a series of albums. At first both were quite excited and just as flattered. But then the old problem returned. Some of the songs that Dee thought did the most for her voice—the glory of God in song now was an afterthought, even though she claimed to be the “evangelical” type who loved to sing for the “saving of souls”—were those that denied the sovereignty of God in the sphere of our salvation and made Him dependent upon man and his “free will.” When Bill threatened not to sign the contract, if she would sing any of these songs on the album, Dee remained adamant and said that her father could accompany her on those songs. But Bill let her know in equally clear language that he would not appear on the same record with such songs that exalted man above God, denying Him His glory to give it to a creature. Both of them went home with troubled thoughts. 

It was not easy for Bill, but he held to his point. And it was Dee who broke down to call him some days later and arrange for a date the following evening to discuss this matter further. 

“Bill”, she said that night, “Why don’t we accept that offer of a contract? If you will agree to this first album, and we establish a name in the record world, I’ll promise not to sing any songs that you do not like on the subsequent albums. If we can just get people to listen to us on the first album, look at the field we will have for future albums. Didn’t Paul write to one of the churches which he served that he caught them with guile?” 

“No”, Bill said, “I certainly would like to cut an album or two or three. But we do not have to do this. We do not have to accept this offer of a contract. If we do not, the recording company will be disappointed, and according to you, we will hurt ourselves. But surely we are not committing some kind of sin when we turn down an offer. The recording company cannot fine us, punish us, get court action against us for turning down their offer. We may hurt ourselves materially, but they will have no right to hurt us for turning down their offer.” 

Dee was ready to stamp her foot and unleash a barrage of hot words upon Bill, for this did mean so very, very much to her. It did to Bill as well, but he had been taught to give up those things of the flesh which could be gotten only in the way of sm. And he did consider it sin to sing that which denies God His glory and corrupts the truth of God’s Word. But Dee noticed that same strange look in Bill’s eyes that she had noticed when earlier in the evening he came to pick her up for their date. 

“Dee”, he said, “I have news for you. I cannot accept this offer of the contract. I do not have to, as I just pointed out to you. But I cannot either. This noon in the mail came a notice from my draft board that I must appear for induction into the army. And, Dee, this is no offer for me to enter the army, it is a command. If I do not heed it, I sin, and I will be considered by our government to have committed a crime, for which I will be punished. 

“Think it over once. Does my draft board have more authority than God? Is it more sovereign than He is? Is our government vested with more power and authority than God? Our government does not punish those who do not volunteer to serve in the army in answer to its call extended through advertising. It offers a place in the armed forces together with certain benefits in an effort to get a volunteer army. But it does not punish those who do not enlist. And it never calls them in to give an answer as to why they did not heed that call. In fact it often rejects those who do accept its offer of a place in the armed services. But once it has given you a physical, classified you, and called to you to appear for induction, it will haul you in for an answer as to why you resisted them and disobeyed their command. 

“Is the call of the gospel a call or simply a desire like that of a government that wants a volunteer army but cannot punish those who do not volunteer? Or is it like the government when it sends the call of a military draft for one to appear for induction?

“Consider God to be like the recording company that can be disappointed and that has no power other than to offer a contract, and you not only deny God’s sovereignty but also man’s guilt before Him when man rejects his “offer of salvation.” See Him as the Scriptures present Him, see Him as the God Who remains sovereign in every step of our salvation, Whocommands men to repent and believe, and you can understand the teachings of Matthew 11:21-24 and of John 12:48 that God will judge and punish men for not believing in His Son and for not receiving Him as their Saviour. When the King calls, it is a command, and the subjects have no choice. One day they will have to give an answer not only for their transgressions of His holy law, but also for not believing in His Son as the Saviour. Yea, for this is breaking the first commandment and dealing with Him in the call of salvation as though He is not God.”