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Called with an Holy Calling
By Robert Murray M'Cheyne
"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." II Timothy 1:9
THERE ARE TWO WAYS in which men are called to believe the gospel. There is an outward and an inward calling, an earthly and a heavenly calling. All believers are "partakers of the heavenly calling" (Hebrews 3:1).
The outward call comes to all who hear the gospel sound: "Many are called, but few chosen." Every time the church bell rings it is a call. It says, "Come away sinner, thy sabbaths are numbered. Eternity is at hand. God's people are hastening to the house of God, God's stewards are dealing out the bread of life. Sinner do not stay behind; Jesus is ringing for thee, inviting thee, wooing thee.
If thou wouldst but listen, it would sound as joyfully as a marriage bell." Ah! there are multitudes in Scotland who hear no more of the gospel than the bell, and that will be enough to condemn them in the great day. The open church door is a call. It seems to say, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able". "Go ye to them that sell, and buy for yourselves," lest the bridegroom come and the door be shut.
"Come in, come in,
Eternal glory thou wilt win."
The lighted windows of the church at evening are a solemn call. They cry in your ears, "Jesus is the light of the world". "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you." Jesus hath lighted a candle, and is sweeping the house, and seeking diligently to find lost pieces of silver. "The village spire that points the way to heaven," is a silent call. It says, Look up stedfastly into heaven, and see the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. "Seek those things which are above. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth."
The voice of the preacher is a call. It says, "Repent and believe the gospel, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God." Every tract given in at your door is a divine call. It says, "I have a message from God unto thee". "Behold I stand at the door and knock." Every leaf of your Bible is a call. It says, "Search the scriptures. I am able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
I am given by inspiration of God, and am profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness." The death of every unconverted friend is a loud call. It says, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish". "It is appointed unto all men once to die, and after death the judgment." "Prepare to meet thy God." It may truly be said of every sinner that shall read these words, that you are now called, warned, invited to flee from the wrath to come, and to lay hold on Christ set before you. If you have not got enough to save you, you have enough to condemn you.
But all who are in Christ have received the inward call. All, who like Timothy, have "unfeigned faith", and have received "the Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind", have been "saved and called with a holy calling". This is the work of the Holy Spirit; and therefore it is called a holy calling. It is the call of the unseen Almighty Spirit who sweetly inclines the will, and melts the heart of the sinner. It is there a saving call. When Jesus said to Matthew, "follow me", the Spirit breathed upon his heart, and made him willing: "He arose and followed Jesus."
When Paul preached to the Thessalonians, he gave the outward call. Had Paul stood alone, they would have remained as hard as the rocks that dash back the waves of the Aegean Sea. But the Spirit breathed upon their hearts, and so the "gospel came not unto them in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance" (1 Thessalonians 1:5). When Paul preached at Philippi by the river's side, many a Grecian matron had the outward call. His words fell pleasantly upon their ears. Still all remained unmoved but one; one heart was opened, a foreigner whose dark eye told that she came from the sunny plains of Asia. "The Lord opened the heart of Lydia" (Acts 16:14).
O sinner! do not think that your reading or hearing the gospel will of itself save your soul. Do not think that because you have a Bible, a minister, and a place in the house of God, that you are therefore on the way to heaven. Remember God must save you, and call you with an holy calling. If you are not quickened from above, your outward calls will only be the savour of death unto death to your soul. It will be one of the chief miseries of hell to remember the texts and sermons that you heard on earth, when you would not come to Christ and have life.
Bless God, you who have been "saved and called with an holy calling", for it is "not according to your works, but according to His purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began". Every saved soul can say, "He hath not dealt with me after my sins, nor rewarded me according to mine iniquities". He has called me out of darkness into marvellous light, from under wrath and curse to pardon and peace with God, from death unto life.
How many He has passed by that were no worse than me. But He has been willing to make known the riches of His glory on me, a vessel of mercy which He had afore prepared unto glory. How sure my sinful soul is of glory. He calls from heaven, and calls to heaven. "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified." "Bless the Lord, O my soul."