By John McCort
Many of our religious friends believe in the doctrine of “irresistible grace.” Briefly, this doctrine states, 1.. God predestines or unconditionally selects certain individuals to be saved and certain individuals to be lost. 2. Those chosen unto salvation God calls through the Holy Spirit. 3. The Holy Spirit opens the heart of the chosen sinner so that he can understand the gospel. 4. The direct calling of the Holy Spirit cannot be resisted or rejected by the chosen sinner. Advocates of this doctrine quote such passages as Rom. 8:30, “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he called. . .” (KJV). This article will specifically deal with the nature of our divine calling.
Definition of “Called”
There are several Greek words that are translated “call.” The primary word for “call” in the New Testament is the word kaleo. Under kaleo, Vine says,”. . .derived from the root kal-, whence Eng. “call” and “clamour” (See B.C., below), is used with a personal object, to call anyone, invite, summon, e.g., Matt. 20:8; 25:14. . .” (Vines Expository Dictionary, p. 163). Kaleo is also translated “Bidden, Invited, Bade.” Under “bidden” Vine has this to say about the Greek word kaleo, “to call, often means to bid, in the sense of invite, e.g., Matt. 22:3, 4, 8, 9; Luke 17:7, 8, 9, 10, 13, R.V.: Rev. 19,9” (Ibid, p.125).
The Greek word kaleo, translated both “call” and invite,” does not carry with it the idea of an irresistable or unrejectable command. It carries the idea of an invitation. An invitation can either be accepted or rejected. A person receiving an invitation has the option of declining. Interestingly, the Latin Vulgate (Latin translation of the Bible) translates the word kaleo as in vitati, which is with word from which we derive our English word “invitation.”
How We Are Called?
The Scriptures teach that we are called to be Christians, not by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit, but through the gospel. 2 Thess. 2:14, “Whereunto he called you by our gospel.” An examination of the cases of conversion in the book of Acts never reveals any operation of the Holy Spirit on the sinners’ heart before hearing the gospel.
The Calling Is Universal
The gospel invitation is universally extended. Jesus gave the great commission,” “. . Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mk. 16:15) “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will (not whosoever God wills, JWMc) let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17) God does not wish that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9); “who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) God is no respector of persons. (Acts 10:34; 1 Pet. 1:17) The Scriptures nowhere teach that sinners are unconditionally and irrevocably called by God through a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on predestined individuals.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:45, p. 2
September 19, 1974