God, Man, and the Gospel #1
Topic: Midweek Sermons Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
Welcome to our Tuesday evening study. I'm delighted with what we have to study tonight. It's really kind of joined together with some of the things that we are looking at Sunday mornings for the next few weeks together. This material is so important that I thought about preaching it on Sunday morning but how do you go about preempting your own self when you're preaching? I don't know how that works and so I decided to postpone our study on the Psalms for a couple of weeks so that I could deal with an important matter of theology and salvation and we have titled this message, when I say "we," I mean "I," there is not a committee on that. I have titled this message "God, Man, and the Gospel" for this week and next week, a two-part series and it will kind of tie in with the things that we are looking at on Jesus and the law from Matthew 5. It's much different than that material but all of these things are going to coalesce in a very important stream of knowledge and hopefully sanctification for us.
Scripture teaches that before time began, God chose exactly who would ultimately be saved and enter into eternal life. Ephesians 1 speaks about that, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who before time began," let me just turn there because it's not coming quickly to my mind. I hate it when that happens. "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless before Him." Before the foundation of the world, he chose us and knew exactly who would be saved over the course of human history. Now, at the same time Scripture teaches us that man, every one of us, is born dead in sin and in trespasses; that man cannot come to Christ on his own power; that not only does he not have the power to choose God for salvation, he would not even have the desire to do so.
Look at Romans 8 with me for a moment. Romans 8:7 says, "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." And so the picture of a man just longing for salvation if only someone would bring the Gospel to him, is one that is completely false. No man desires salvation. No man desires a holy God in the sinfulness of his own heart. That's not true. And the idea that somehow we present the Gospel and then, you know, in the old times they would have a ballot box, "God has chosen you for salvation. Satan has chosen you not to be saved and now the choice is up to you." None of that is true. None of that is a biblical picture of what the Gospel ministry of God is toward men. Men would not choose to be saved if left to their own devices. You did not choose to be saved based on your own desire unaided by the Holy Spirit. It's very important to understand that yet at the same time, Scripture commands men to repent and to believe in the Gospel, Mark 1:15, Matthew 4:17. How can we kind of put these things together in a way that we can understand? What is the work of God in salvation and what is the responsibility of man in salvation?
Well, to kind of take a two-week perspective on this, I want to invite you to turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of Luke 19 and we're going to study this, we're going to approach this through the biblical account of the conversion of a man named Zaccheus and sometimes it's helpful to see a biblical illustration of doctrine rather than simply teaching it from a purely didactic passage like an epistle of Paul. Of course we need to do that and we're going to be doing that in months and years to come, but tonight I want to do it just a little bit differently, I just want to look at an illustration of a single sinner who was saved and help us to think rightly about God, man and the Gospel.
Luke 19, beginning in verse 1 through verse 10 will be our text and I'll just read it to set it in your mind. In Luke 19:1 it says,
1 [Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.
Pay attention to that little bit of information about him. It will become important later on. Verse 3,
3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house." 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much." 9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Now just as a passing matter, we'll look at verse 10 more next week, but just notice how verse 10 frames what the initiative is in salvation. Jesus says that he came to seek and to save that which was lost. It is imperative if you're going to have a right idea of biblical salvation is to realize that salvation was God's idea from beginning to end. Salvation was something that was done at God's initiative, it was God sending Christ into the world to be the propitiation for our sins; it was Christ voluntarily coming, voluntarily laying down his life. We must put aside any thought that there was some kind of merit or inbred desire in us apart from a work of God that desired salvation. This was something that God desired for his glory. God chose salvation, planned out salvation, so that over the course of eternity his Son would have a bride that would love and glorify him forever and ever, amen. We must see it from that perspective.
But as it works out in the lives of individual sinners, what can we say about this? What can we see from the life of Zaccheus? Well, let me give you just a little bit of background that will help us kind of process the passage just from a background perspective. Zaccheus, as you know, was a wee little man, a wee little man was he. I've gone off track, haven't I? Zaccheus was a tax collector, in fact, he was a chief tax collector it says in verse 2, and the way the tax system worked is that the Romans would sell the right to collect taxes to men who were called publicans or tax collectors. They would sell the right, they would sell a franchise, as it were, to collect taxes within a geographic area. And the men who purchased this right had the right to levy taxes as authorized by the Roman government and also had the authority to go beyond that and whatever else they could collect was theirs to keep. They were very powerful men and able to do that. For Zaccheus to be called a chief tax collector indicates that he probably was in a supervisory position, a position of even greater authority, supervising the foot collectors, the tax collectors in the street collecting taxes, and so he had a way of double income through that. The Jews despised the tax collectors in their realm. The tax collectors were Jews who had sold their souls, as it were, to Rome in order to collect taxes against their own people. So the Jews hated that. The Jews hated being under Roman authority, they longed for independence, and so the very presence of Roman taxes was irksome to them, but for a Jew to be the one who was collecting the taxes from his own people was a sign of treason to the Jewish people. So while Zaccheus was wealthy, he was a man who was hated by the people around him.
Look at verses 1 and 2 with me again just to set the stage. Jesus "entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich." Yeah, he was rich, he was rich at the expense of his fellow Jews, with the people among whom he lived and so to be a tax collector, to be a traitor to your people, was to be viewed as a sinner and to be viewed as an outcast from the people that he lived with. They would have nothing to do with Zaccheus. They would want no interaction with him whatsoever. So here he is, he's rich but he's kind of alone, as it were, hostile to the people among whom he lived.
Look at verses 3 through 6 with me now. And in that state, "Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way." Now notice something that's important by way of background, by what this says about what was going on in Zaccheus' heart. For a Jew to run, to be running in public was not cool. That was outside of protocol. You didn't do that. That wasn't what you did and still maintained some sense of decorum. To go further, as a grown man to climb up into a tree in order to see a procession, to see a man going by, even to us for a grown man, for a businessman of stature to be climbing up into a tree to look upon a parade that was going by, we would think that was a little bit odd, that that was outside the norm of acceptable behavior. You know, adults just have a certain standard of conduct that they follow and Zaccheus is violating that: he's violating that as his running, he's violating it as he's climbing up into a tree. That's odd. What's the big deal that he was doing, that he needed to do that?
So, in fact, if you look at verse 3 where it says, "Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was," it has the idea that repeatedly he was trying to do that. It's the imperfect tense in the Greek language and you kind of get a picture of him standing behind, being a short man, being behind people that were taller than he was, kind of stepping on his tiptoes, looking for a view and he couldn't find it. So with that inability, he runs ahead, he gets ahead of the procession. He climbs up into a tree waiting for Jesus to pass by.
Now, all of this background is designed for us for tonight there is just a single point that I'm going to unfold for you and it is: salvation from God's perspective. Salvation from God's perspective is what we're wanting to talk about here this evening, and it's likely that you've never considered the question that I'm about to ask about this passage, about Zaccheus. Have you ever wondered why Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus? Have you ever wondered why it was so important to him that he would make this repeated effort, standing on his tiptoes, looking around, can't get there, runs ahead, violates, runs like a kid and climbs up into a tree? Totally outside of his position in life as an authorized representative of the Roman government. Why are you acting that way, man? Well, listen, we need to think about this because this is very important. Remember, we're illustrating here the work of God and the responsibility of man in salvation.
Why was Zaccheus so eager to see Jesus? Let's ask ourselves some questions. Could it have been that he wanted healing because, you know, Jesus was known as a miracle worker? It couldn't have been that, beloved. It couldn't have been that. He was well enough to run. He had the physical ability to run and to climb a tree. He was physically fine. There was nothing about Jesus' physical healing powers that would have attracted him. Could it have been as in modern days to us today that he wanted wealth and prosperity from Jesus? He didn't need money; Scripture plainly says he was rich. There was nothing in the way of material resources that Jesus had to offer him. There was nothing of physical need that Zaccheus was bringing to the table. Jesus further had nothing by way of earthly advantage to offer to Zaccheus. Think about it. Jesus didn't have a place to lay his own head and here Zaccheus was a man who had authority from Rome to act as he wished. So Jesus had no political benefit to offer to him because he already had it, no physical benefit to offer to him because he was already a man of physical ability, he was just short. Jesus had no money to give to him; he didn't need it, he was already rich.
So here's the key thing for you to understand as you are looking at this text, this passage about Zaccheus. There is no human explanation for Zaccheus' desire to see Jesus. Jesus from a human perspective had nothing to offer this man because this man already had it all. There was something about Jesus that was creating other transcendent yearnings in his heart. Perhaps he had heard about Jesus' teachings and miracles that were outside his experience. Maybe Zaccheus had a guilty conscience. Scripture doesn't tell us exactly what his motivation would have been to pursue Jesus. It doesn't tell us about the unfolding of Zaccheus' motivations there. We can just rule out some things as knowing what it couldn't have been. It couldn't have been about money. It couldn't have been about power. It couldn't have been about physical needs.
But we know what was happening from God's perspective. We know what was happening from God's perspective. First of all, and we've pointed this out in the past when we did a sweep through the Gospel of Luke some years ago, in Luke 19:5, look at this with me, "Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, 'Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.'" That phrase "I must" is an indication, it uses a Greek word that means there is a divine necessity. He's saying, "Zaccheus, we have a divine appointment. I must see you today." You say, "Well, what determines what Jesus must do? Who tells the Son of God that he has to do this or that?" Well, he had a divine appointment. This was a divine appointment. This was a divine necessity. This was a chosen moment by God that Jesus says, "I must stay with you." Jesus is always about doing his Father's will. This didn't suddenly pop into his mind, "Oh, that looks like a cool guy. I think I'll spend some time with him," as if the unfolding of the earthly ministry and the earthly career of the Son of God happened by random thought. Not at all. Jesus said, "I must stay with you," using a word that's used throughout the Gospel of Luke to speak of that which is a divine imperative, a divine requirement. Jesus said, "I must stay with you." There is a divine appointment going on here.
But we can go further as we look at other scriptures that speak. And do you want to know why Zaccheus was seeking Christ? It's because God was seeking him first. Jesus said in John 6:44, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." This is vital for you to understand the account of the conversion of Zaccheus. You see, Zaccheus was divinely chosen and Scripture unfolds and gives us enough information about it to rule out any human motivations for him to come to Christ. Why is it? Why would Scripture say that Zaccheus was seeking him when we know the end of the story, he came to true salvation before this passage is over? Well, when that is happening, when a man comes to salvation, you know that the Father has first drawn him, John 6:44.
What you see happening, what you see illustrated as other Scripture helps us interpret this, is that Zaccheus was experiencing what theologians call the effective call of God to salvation. The effective call of God to salvation. And what does that mean? It means this, it means that God secretly works in the heart of a spiritually dead sinner. I'm giving you a definition of effective call: God secretly works in the heart of a spiritually dead sinner through the preaching of the Gospel so that the sinner will respond in saving faith. The effective call of the Gospel: God secretly works in the heart of a spiritually dead sinner through the preaching of the Gospel so that the sinner will respond in saving faith. This is really vital to understand. How was it that your sinful heart was turned to come to Christ? It's because God did a work in your heart. God did something. God acted on you by the power of the Holy Spirit in order to take out the heart of stone and put in a heart of flesh that's willing to respond. This was not something that you did in your unaided power. It's so important to understand. It wasn't something that Zaccheus was seeking in his own unaided human power.
The effective call of God is in contrast to what we call the general call. The general call of God refers to the preaching of the Gospel to all people, even to those who reject it. So in a room like this, a mixture of people who are saved and unsaved and I preach the Gospel, that's the general call of God going out for all to hear. God calls all men generally through the preaching of the Gospel, but for some from time to time in the midst of that, God goes further and does a work with power on their heart that draws them, that captivates them, that energizes them to listen, to pay heed and to respond with a power and an energy that does not come from a human source.
Look over at the book of Acts 16, beginning in verse 13, "on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled." The Apostle Paul is speaking to a group of women alongside a river, speaking to them about the things of the Gospel and what happened there? He's speaking in a general way. He's speaking and not knowing upon whom God is working in their heart. But in verse 14 it says, "A woman named Lydia," a specific individual, "A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul." So Paul is speaking out to all that were hearing and as he's doing that, the Lord secretly in a hidden way does a work in Lydia's heart to open it so that she is able to respond to the things that she's heard. That is what we mean by the effective call, the Lord opens a heart to respond to the Gospel, to respond when the truth is being said. This is salvation from God's perspective. God in mercy, God in power, God in grace, looks on an individual sinner and through a divine appointment that was established before the beginning of time, opens that sinner's heart to respond in faith and repentance to the message that they are hearing along with others who may not be responding in the same way at the same time.
Now, look, we see this all the time, if you think about it. Think about it even from the perspective of your own life, those of you especially that were saved a little bit later in life, you will understand and relate to this. Isn't it true that when you look back on your life, look back on your pre-conversion days, that you heard the Gospel time and time and time again and it just bounced off your ears and nothing happened? You didn't respond to it. But one day somebody was speaking to you, maybe a pastor in a sermon, maybe a book you were reading, maybe a newspaper article that you were reading, something happened, there was something that ignited in your mind, there was a clarity of understanding and a power where you realized, "I am really lost and Christ is really the only way of salvation and I must come to him now." Somewhere along the line something like that happened to you where before you had heard it again and and again and again and you never responded. Maybe you thought you had but you hadn't. But then there is a time where things become clear and there is an urgency in your heart and you respond and you come to Christ in true repentance and in true saving faith. That is the difference in your own experience between being under the general call of the Gospel with no response, and the effective call of God when your heart is turned and you receive him.
I've told you in the past of my own conversion. One moment looking in the mirror, proud of my sin of the prior night, the next moment my heart is burning with an urgency that I am a lost sinner and I must come to Christ immediately or I will forever perish in hell. How can you explain that? How can you explain anything like that other than the fact that there was a secret unseen work of God in my heart that changed me from one moment to the next? Nothing else explains that. There is no human explanation to go from boasting in your sin to being ashamed of it in an instant. That's only the power of God. It is an act of mercy on an unworthy sinner and apart from that kind of hidden work of God in the heart of an individual sinner, no one will be saved. We are helpless before a sovereign, omnipotent, gracious God to save us. There must be this work for a man to be saved.
Now, let's stretch it out a little bit more, take this to another realm where perhaps you haven't thought about it so much. What is it that God uses to accomplish this work? Well, he uses his word, first and foremost, we should say. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17, in fact, turn there and keep your finger there for just a moment, faith, saving faith in verse 17, Romans 10:17, "faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ."
Now, tangent alert here. This is a side point but it needs really to be said. It is quite common, I can't remember if I've mentioned this in times gone by or not but it's certainly worth me say again. There are multiplied reports easy to find and everybody gets so worked up that Muslims are coming to Christ because they are seeing a vision of Jesus at the foot of their bed and Jesus invites them to come to faith in him and they supposedly rise up and follow Christ in response to a vision, not having heard anything about the Gospel before. Listen, beloved, don't believe that as being a mark of true salvation. Christ does not come to men in visions like that. Scripture is clear and Scripture is definitive. Faith, saving faith comes from hearing the word of Christ and we should be completely suspicious and to not be so gullible to think that Christ is going to violate his word in order to do these kinds of works. Scripture makes it clear that hearing comes from hearing the word of Christ, hearing the Scriptures explained. On what basis would anyone who has never heard the Gospel, never been taught the Bible, have any basis to make an intelligent appropriation of Christ by faith without some kind of explanation from Scripture? And I know everybody wants to believe these kinds of things and everybody wants Muslims to come to Christ and wouldn't it be wonderful? But didn't Paul say that if we or an angel from heaven declares to you a Gospel, let him be accursed that's different from the one you've received? Doesn't Scripture say that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light? What kind of foolishness is it for Christians to run after visions just because it seems to be doing what we want it to say when it violates the most fundamental premises of what God says the Gospel is and how it works? No. No. This is not what God uses. That is not what God uses to save people. He saves people through the preaching of the word, through those who have the Gospel, who know the Gospel taking it to them. "Go into all the world and teach them and make them My disciples."
So that was a tangent. Back to today's message. And by the way, you know, I've dealt with people, I have a particular experience in the past with somebody who was sucked into that. I warned him against it. He rejected my warning. Praise God, five years later he came back to me and said, and I'm just giving you the bare thumbnail of the outline, I realize that, but he came back and said, "You know, I'm so sorry. I should have listened to you." And people get sucked into that and the visions and all of that, beloved, is not the way that God communicates. God communicates through his word. Do not be misled. Don't go after things, don't go after the spectacular stories. Stay grounded in his word because that is where God has spoken.
So having said that, having said in general that it is by hearing the word, faith comes through the word to us, that that's how it comes, from God's perspective, how does he use the word in order to bring about this effectual call in the hearts of some individual sinners? Well, this part I really am delighted to share with you. Scripture gives us different patterns, shows us different ways that God does this, different ways that he appeals to the human heart through the preaching of the Gospel. First of all, God uses – I'm going to give you four different things here, four different aspects of the way that the word is brought to men and God uses a variety of ways in his word to appeal to the hearts of men and to bring them to faith.
First of all, and we're just going to go through these really quickly. God uses commands to call men to Christ. God uses commands. He uses imperatives, "Repent and believe in the Gospel." Imperative. A command to do that. Look over at Acts 17:30. I think you're still somewhere close to Acts. If not, you can find it. Acts 17:30, the Apostle Paul said, "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed." God is commanding all men everywhere to repent. He is declaring to them, "This is what you must do." Commands.
Now, along with that, God uses warnings. God uses warnings. Look over at Luke 13. I may even have a homiletical application of this if I don't forget to make it later on. Luke 13, beginning in verse 1. God uses warnings to call men to Christ. In Luke 13:1, "Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'" Verse 4, "'Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'" You see, there is a warning there. As people are processing news of a calamity that had taken place and others had died and they start to speculate on the spiritual condition that warranted that kind of manner of death to them, Jesus warns them, "Stop the idle speculation and realize that unless you repent, you will perish." He warns them. A little different sense than just the direct command.
So God commands, "Come to Christ." God warns, "If you don't, you will perish." And true of me in my younger days, I can think back of times where I preached with the wrong kind of tone in the wrong kind of setting. I think it is a tendency of young preachers, of young men who are especially zealous and enthusiastic about Scripture, zealous and enthusiastic for people to be saved, to lose sight of the overall balance of God's word and to be too harsh and too severe with the commands and the warnings, and that that becomes the only tone with which the Gospel is presented by them. I've done that in the past. There is room for commands. There is explicit warrant for commands and warnings in the Gospel but, beloved, here's the thing: this is not the only way that God calls men to the Gospel, that God calls men to Christ, because God also uses promises. God also uses promises to call men to Christ.
Look back at Romans 10:13. Promises. Romans 10:13 says, "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." We can tell sinners with absolute divine authority that if they will call on the name of Christ in an earnest cry of faith, God will save them. That is not a speculation on our part, it is a warrant from God's word and we say, "Believe God. Believe his promise. Come to Christ and he will save you." A promise. Do you see the difference between a command, "You must repent and come to Christ"? A promise that says, "Believe on Christ and he will save you." A warning that says, "If you don't, you'll perish."
So commands and promises and warnings and one more that I would show you, and I love this one. 2 Corinthians 5:20, actually we'll start a little bit earlier. God also uses pleadings. God pleads with sinners through the proclamation of the Gospel to be saved. In verse 18, "all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." Verse 20, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." You see, it's not just the tone of authority with which the Gospel is rightly proclaimed; that should be there, there should be a clarity that says that "there is salvation in no one else for there is no other name among men that has been given to us by which we must be saved." There should be clarity and there should be authority. We should warn people and help them to understand that there are consequences for rejecting the Gospel. "If you reject what I'm telling you here today, you will perish in your sins. Why would you do that?" So we warn people about the consequences. "This is the only true Gospel. You are lost in sin. You are under the wrath of God. He banishes sinners to hell that don't repent and receive Christ. I warn you that that's your fate if you don't come to Christ." So that it's clear we command, we warn, we promise. Say, "It may sound too good to be true but, yes, if you will simply receive Christ by faith, he will give you a free and full pardon immediately. Right now you can have immediate justification before the court room of God and be declared not only innocent but perfectly righteous based on the righteousness and shed blood of Christ. And you can have right now a perfect standing with God if you'll come to Christ." We promise them that based on God's word. I didn't make that up.
But along with that, beloved, and with a lot of sorrow mixed in, remembering some of my past demeanor as a preacher, some of the opportunities that I had where I spoke with harshness when I needed to speak with love. One time in particular, just makes me ill to remember the way that I spoke to a family at a funeral, spoke to others at a nursing home even further back. You're so wrapped up in the authority of the Gospel and the urgency of it and you lose sight of the people to whom you're speaking to, people with broken hearts; people that truly are about to perish; people that maybe have somewhat diminished mental capacity. You don't speak like a harsh taskmaster to them, you remember that the whole point of the Gospel is the love of God for sinners; that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. In this the love of God was manifested, that He sent Christ to be the propitiation for our sins." And in Romans 5, God demonstrates his own love toward us "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The love of God, the love of Christ for sinners. And it's that divine love, it's that divine goodness, that divine appeal to sinners for their own well-being and the Gospel proclamation that leads us to plead, to beg. "Oh, please come to Christ. Please come. Don't you realize that God loves you and I love you too and God only desires your good? Oh, please come that you might enter into the goodness of God as well and join with the rest of us that have been redeemed by the great mercy of God. That can be yours too. Won't you come?" So there are these pleadings of love, there are warnings of authority, and the command of authority, the promises of the truthfulness and veracity of God. "I assure you God will save you because he has never rejected anyone who has truly come to Christ." Jesus said in John 6, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Let him come. I will receive him. The one who comes to Me," he said, "I will never cast out."
So from God's perspective, how does salvation happen? How does it occur? Well, in the realm of the effective call of God, he does a secret work in the heart that opens the sinner's heart to the truth of the Gospel. In the outward proclamation, God's motivation is seen in the warnings and the promises and the commands and the pleadings and you get an insight into what the character of God is like, how the attributes of love and mercy and truth and holiness combine into a single uncontradicted flow of goodness to the sinner saying, "Come to me for your own goodness, for your own well-being," I should say. That's salvation from God's perspective. His love for sinners is real. It's genuine. And that's why the effective call – look, God intends to accomplish the salvation of the elect and so the realm of salvation is in the power of God. God would never leave it in the power of sinful hostile men in order to choose themselves to be saved. And his love is so great and so vast that he works with power in our hearts in order to save us.
Now, let me point out one other thing about this as we see this difference between the outward call and the inward call of God. Go back to Luke 19 as we bring this soon to a close. Luke 19 as we soon bring this to a close to illustrate these different things. You know, in the passage in Luke 19, there were many people in the crowd, right? There were a lot of people in the crowd, so many that Zaccheus couldn't see what he wanted to see. He had to get around them. Do you know what? Most of those people went away grumbling. Most of those people went away unchanged. They heard the general call but did not respond. Zaccheus, by contrast, repented from sin that day and was saved.
Look at verse 7. Remember, Jesus had called Zaccheus down, verse 6, Zaccheus "hurried and came down and received Him gladly." And in verse 7, "When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, 'He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.' Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.'" The crowd heard the outward call. Zaccheus was the beneficiary of the inward call of God and responded. Jesus, look at this, look at this, beloved, what did Jesus do in that encounter in verse 5? He called Zaccheus by name. "Zaccheus." It is a targeted call. "Zaccheus, I must be with you today." He calls him out by name. In the course of this outward story recorded for us by Luke, we see Jesus calling Zaccheus by name and then he led him to faith. Beloved, that simply illustrates what God does with every one of us that come to true faith. The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20 that, "Christ loved me and gave Himself up for me." First person singular. "He loved me and called me by name."
Beloved, for all of the mischaracterizations of biblical Calvinism that are out there, don't buy into them and don't listen to these falsehoods. In these biblical truths of the sovereign doctrines of grace are the security of your soul and the great love that would bring out of your soul for Christ. God the Father chose you by name before the beginning of time. Jesus Christ died for you on the cross by name. He loved you and gave himself up for you by name. And it was the Holy Spirit who worked in your heart by name. Individually targeting you, calling you out by name. Saying, "Kevin, come to me. Gary, come to me. Catherine, come to me. Nancy, come to me." And with power drawing you so that you came to Christ in saving faith. So we look at these things, we look at these truths of particular grace, particular redemption, and a particular effective call and we see the things that make us love our God deeply; that he loved us deeply by name before we were even born; loved us by name before we came to Christ when we were still dead in sin; and having loved us, in a Trinitarian work, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he will keep us all the way into heaven. And we will be there and he will know us in heaven by name and we will worship him by name and we will be known to him by name. Not a mass, a general mass of humanity that he chose and you say, "Well, I'm so glad I'm part of that mass of humanity for whom Christ died," which is the view of general redemption. No, we believe in particular redemption, that Christ loved us by name and gave himself for us by name.
So, beloved, if you are a Christian here tonight, your heart should be overflowing with love toward the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together in perfect unity to accomplish and secure your salvation and to respond to him with undivided loyalty, love and devotion because you owe everything to him and – watch it – what these truths do, they leave you in a position where you take no credit for yourself. And not only – watch this – not only do you not take credit for yourself, you do not want to take credit for yourself. You, a true Christian, would never rob God of the glory that is alone his for your salvation. Never. Don't want a piece of it. Fling those crowns at the feet of Jesus. If you're not a Christian, hear the Gospel and come to Christ. God commands you. God warns you. God promises you. God pleads with you.
Then next week, we'll look at this from man's perspective and man's responsibility in the Gospel. I hope that you're able to be with us again next week.
Let's pray together.
O Father in heaven, the words of the doxology come to mind as we close tonight. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures, here below. Praise him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Lord, we pray that these truths would endear and bind even closer knit our heart even more closely to your good character in love and fidelity from us to you. We thank you for a great plan of salvation that you devised to rescue us from our own guilt, sin, and shame, and judgment. Thank you, Father, for all that you have done. We give you all of the glory and we pray that these things might stay with us and abide with us and even shape us. And help us to be more effective evangelists, Father, to be those who are more effective, more willing in sharing Christ with others, Father, starting with the one behind this pulpit. We bow before you and give you praise and I thank you, Father, for these dear friends, these dear fellow believers in Christ, brothers and sisters who love you like I do, who love your word like I do. Father, what a blessing for us to gather together and fellowship around these great truths. We elevate the name of Christ to the highest possible position. And Lord Jesus, we thank you that you loved us and gave yourself up for us on that violent cross of Calvary, rose again, ascended to heaven. Now in heaven we have a brother who represents us before a holy God and names us as his own. What precious truths, O God, that we thank you for so much. In Jesus' name. Amen.