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26 October, 2013

The Call of Christ -Whom Did Christ Call? – Part 5


Arthur Pink
While we are far from affirming that everything modern is evil—or that everything ancient was excellent—yet there is no doubt whatever in our own mind, that by far the greater part of the boasted "progress" of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was a progress downward and not upward, away from God and not toward Him, into the darkness and not the light. And therefore it behooves us to examine with double care and caution, any religious views or ways which deviated from the common teachings and practices of the godly Reformers and Puritans. This writer sincerely trusts that he is not a worshiper of antiquity as such, nor does he desire to call any man "father," yet in view of the awful corruption of the Truth and departure from vital godliness, we are compelled to regard with suspicion those "broader" interpretations of God's Word which have become so popular in recent times.

It behooves us now to point out one or two of the reasons we do not believe that Christ was here making a broadcast invitation, issued promiscuously to the light-headed, gay-hearted, pleasure-crazy, masses which have no appetite for the Gospel and no concern for their eternal interests: that this call was not addressed to the godless, careless, giddy and worldly multitudes—but rather unto those who were burdened with a sense of sin and longed for relief of conscience.

First because the Lord Jesus had received no commission from Heaven to bestow rest of soul upon all and sundry—but only upon the elect of God. Said He, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day" (John 6:38, 39), and that, necessarily, regulated all His ministry.

Second, because the Lord Jesus ever practiced what He preached. Unto His disciples He said, "Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces" (Matthew 7:6). Can we, then, conceive of our holy Lord inviting the unconcerned to come unto Him—for that which their hearts abhorred? Has He set His ministers such an example? Surely, the word He would have them press upon the pleasure-intoxicated members of our rising generation is, "Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. And walk in the ways of your heart and in the sights of your eyes; but know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment!" (Eccl. 11:9).

Third, because the immediate context is entirely out of harmony with the wider interpretation. There we find Christ pronouncing most solemn "woes" upon those who despised and rejected Him (Matthew 11:20-24), drawing consolation from the sovereignty of God and thanking Him because He had hidden from the wise and prudent, those things which belonged unto their eternal peace—but had revealed them unto babes (vv. 25, 26), and it is these "babes" He here invites unto Himself; and there we find Him presented as the One commissioned by the Father and as the Revealer of Him. (v. 27).

It must not be concluded from anything said above, that the writer does not believe in an unfettered Gospel or that he is opposed to the general offer of Christ to all who hear it. Not so! His marching orders are far too plain for any misunderstanding: his Master has bidden him "preach the Gospel to every creature" so far as Divine providence admits, and the substance of the Gospel message, is that Christ died for sinners and stands ready to welcome every sinner who is willing to receive Him on His prescribed terms. Though His mission was the saving of God's elect (Matthew 1:21), the Lord Jesus announced the design of His incarnation in sufficiently general terms, as to warrant any man truly desiring salvation to believe in Him. "I have not come to call the righteous—but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13). Many are called—even though but few are chosen (Matthew 20:16). The way in which we spell out our election, is in coming to Christ as lost sinners, trusting in His blood for pardon and acceptance with God.

In his excellent sermon on the words before us, John Newton pointed out that, when David was driven into the wilderness by the rage of Saul that "everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them" (1 Samuel 22:2). But David was despised by those who, like Nabal (1 Samuel 25:10), lived at their ease: they believed not that he should be a king over Israel, and therefore they preferred the favor of Saul whom God had rejected. Thus it was with the Lord Jesus: though a Divine Person, invested with all authority, grace and blessings, and declaring that He would be the King of all who obeyed His voice and that they should be His happy people—yet the majority saw no beauty that they should desire Him, felt no need of Him, and so rejected Him. Only a few, who were consciously wretched and burdened, believed His Word and came to Him for rest.