Monday, May 6, 2013

What is Meant by "Called" in Romans 8:30?

Primitive Baptists are often incorrectly conjoined with Calvinists. I am often asked to explain how we differ. In a recent discussion this key point of distinction came up. Consider the testimony of scripture:

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)
I have heard this passage taught by Calvinists as an unbreakable, golden chain of events that happen for all of God's elect, and we as Primitive Baptists heartily agree. But this observation is accompanied by unavoidable logical ramifications. Consider the following questions:

QUESTION: Do all of the events of Romans 8:30 (predestination, calling, justification, glorification) happen for all of God's sheep?
ANSWER: Yes. It is clear from the context of Paul’s remarks that these things shall come to pass for ALL of God’s elect family as they are fundamental aspects of their eternal salvation. Thus ALL of God’s elect family shall be “called” at some point between conception and death during their natural lives.  
QUESTION: Does the explicit New Testament gospel (I Corinthians 15:3-4) reach all of God's sheep? 
ANSWER: No. The explicit New Testament gospel never reached Job, else he would not have asked, "How can a man be just with God?" (Job 9:2) Indeed this gospel is the very answer to that question. Neither did this gospel reach any of the Old Testament saints (Ephesians 3:5). Moreover, this gospel never reaches the infant dying in infancy, yet the bible's testimony is clear regarding the reality of saved infants. (II Samuel 12:23, I Kings 14:13, Jeremiah 31:15-17)

QUESTION: So if the "calling" of Romans 8:30 reaches all God's sheep, but the explicit New Testament gospel does NOT reach all God's sheep, can the explicit New Testament gospel be the "calling" of Romans 8:30?

ANSWER: Clearly not.
It is the life-giving fiat of God whereby he imparts the gift of eternal life to one of his chosen children. God's gift of eternal life is not confined to the domain of gospel distribution.  Just as in the time of Seth, or Job, or any other Old Testament saint, from Rahab to Jeroboam's infant son, God grants eternal life to his children irrespective of the degree of gospel information he has seen fit to reveal to them. God imparts the gift of eternal life to his children apart from any help or instrumentality on the part of the gospel minister whatsoever.

That's an eye-opener for most, but it has theology-shaping ramifications on the nature and purpose of the gospel message for those who enter into it. 

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