And here is love:
Romans 8:30 (CSB) And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.
So if there was nothing in us to attract, sway, or convinced God to love us and save us, what did God see in us before He saved us?
There is a war in our world to determine the value of a human’s life. Life today is no longer precious. Consider the life of a newborn or the life of a refugee. What are they to the world as a whole but lambs up for a slaughter.
But even biologically speaking, life of a human is determined by lungs breathing air, heart pumping blood. We could take it one step further that a life being lived to it’s capacity is one that is functioning on a brain or muscle capacity. And even further still, one that contributes to society.
But I am here to tell you that without the mark of the Spirit of God upon our lives as sons and daughters of God the Father, we are not fully made alive.
All humans born, or as the Bible puts it as all those born of Adam, do breath air and hearts pump blood. But to be born is to be born under the curse of our original father. That is, to be born is to be born into sin.
And there is no escaping that. It is impossible for any baby to be born without the sperm of a male to be joined to the egg of the female. It would take a miracle of God to be born of a woman alone and thus, not to inherit the curse of Adam’s first sin.
Now, because we are born into sin, we are born to die. Consider Paul in Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:1–3 (CSB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.
or this in Paul's letter to Pastor Titus:
Titus 3:3 (CSB) For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
Because of sin, we are dead. We are nothing more than spirit-less corpses toiling around until we fully expire. But the world wants to convince us all that there is actually life apart from God. And not only the world, but we ourselves as believers are strongly tempted to sin and stray outside the grace of God.
So how does God go about that?
First, salvation by God starts with God’s sovereign choice. But salvation certainly doesn’t end there.
All throughout the Bible, there is a certain thing that God does over and over again—constant and perfect—prior to someone experience God’s salvation. While we would never know God’s choice in all matters but we can see the effects of some of his choices. And none quicker and clearer than the powerful and effectual calling of God.
Now, we see this in Genesis 12 when God called Abram to trust and obey him. We see the calling of God upon the birth and life of Isaac. Onward with Jacob, Joseph, Noah, Moses, and on it goes.
But we only see where it was 100% effective. Does God ever call on someone and they don’t follow him? Jonah tried but was made to be convinced otherwise.
The Bible never lists those who don’t follow God upon his calling because God’s almighty word never returns void. In other words, His word does not return back to him without fulfilling what God wants to do. Consider this parable from Jesus:
Matthew 13:1–9 (CSB) On that day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying, “Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it. Still other seed fell on good ground and produced fruit: some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times what was sown. Let anyone who has ears listen.”
Matthew 13:18–23 (CSB) “So listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he has no root and is short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away. Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does produce fruit and yields: some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times what was sown.”
Christ said to himself that many will hear the word of the kingdom and yet, only a few where that word takes root, grows, and thrives. But we cannot confused the blanket preaching of the gospel to everybody to the ends of the earth (which we can joyfully participate in) along with the effectual calling of God.
For all that God intended to save, God will actually saved. So where we see when God calls individuals, God actually saves individuals. And now, we who possess His Holy Spirit now take the fullness and the power of gospel to everyone and everywhere, proclaim it forth and it is God who still saves.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (CSB) What then is Apollos? What is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
So God predestines. From there, God calls. When He actually calls, He actually saves. Salvation includes and new heart that springs forth new desires for God and His Spirit dwells within us.
If God charged a prophet to a call out to the valley of dry bones and they live, how much more powerful is the calling of God on those who are far from Him.
Consider the ultimate calling of God from death unto life.
John 11:38–44 (CSB) Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 “Remove the stone,” Jesus said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, “Lord, there is already a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42 I know that you always hear me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe you sent me.” 43 After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”
We know Jesus has raised those who were extremely ill to the point of being thought of as death. But Jesus quickly corrects with, “She’s just asleep” as he did with the synagogue leader's daughter. But Lazarus was someone who was dead for four days. His body was wrapped and laid in the tomb.
This is the first time we’ve seen Christ step before not just His friend’s dead body but at Death itself. Through the deepest and darkest grief and pain of losing his friend, even for a moment, Christ looked upon His Father and with tears running down his cheeks, he simply prays, “Father, I thank you that you hear me and have heard me. I knew that you always heard me but I want everybody around here to know that as well so that they believe in me.”
It is Jesus Christ—the Lord ruling over heaven, earth, and hell; the upcoming victor over Satan and his demons—faced death and with His own voice cut through Death’s power and call his friend back to himself: “Lazarus, come out!”
This was the first time Christ faced death and won. But wasn’t the last.
As Christ broken, hung, and blood drained upon that cross, through excruciating and torturous pain and grieve as he had taken all of all the sin of all believers of all time everywhere and as He was absorbing the wrath of God for us, He called upon His Father and declared, “It is finished”, and gave up His Spirit and died.
We might think that Satan, demons, hell, and especially Death absolutely believe that God was defeated and Christ was dead and by what they have seen, all of mankind would perish forever.
But no! It was when Christ died and gave up his life as ransom for many is the precise moment that Satan was crushed, demons were lorded over, hell was controlled, our sins abolished, and Death defeated once and for all.
That is a love that is simply unfathomable but that is exactly the fullest of God’s love for us.
Believer, be in Christ today. Amen.