Call Sinners to Respond to the Gospel!

CALL SINNERS TO RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland, Elder-Shepherd
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Someone once said that Christians should learn to plead with sinners to embrace Christ and escape hell. A child of God could faithfully give the gospel, speak of God and His character, man and His desperate need, Christ and His sufficient atonement, repentance and faith in clear terms, but one element that evangelists seem to omit is the urgent call for sinners to respond to the gospel! Paul said that he was not ashamed to beg! He pleaded with sinners to come to Christ. Whitefield loudly and lovingly wept as he urged sinners to turn to Christ and live! Spurgeon spoke of this kind of urgent pleading with frequency. The Puritan preachers spent a good deal of time in their sermons exhorting sinners to embrace Christ and follow Him. We should learn from these examples and do the same. We must call sinners to respond to the gospel.

How should Christians ‘call for a response’ when speaking the gospel?

1. Call for a response in OBEDIENCE TO SCRIPTURE.
Elijah called the pagans to ‘choose whom they would serve’: if Baal was god, follow him; if Yahweh was god, follow Him. Joshua told the children of Israel to ‘choose whom they would serve’ and he modeled it by saying that he and his household would serve the LORD. Jesus pleaded with His disciples to ‘compel sinners’ to come to the wedding feast. Paul pleaded with Herod to repent and come to Christ. As ambassadors of God Almighty, believers must take Paul’s words and beg for men and women to be reconciled to God. We must call for a response! We must plead with folks to embrace Christ! We must follow the example set before us by the Apostles: “Repent and believe the gospel!”

2. Call for a response in FOLLOWING CHRIST’S EXAMPLE.
The life and ministry of Christ unveils His heart as He pleaded with sinners repeatedly and patiently to come to Himself for salvation. Often, in the Temple against the backdrop of the hypocritical, works-righteousness system of Judaism, Christ would teach how He came down from heaven as the living Bread, as the water of life, as the door to heaven, as the Shepherd for the sheep, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and he invited all to come to Him. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me. He exemplified not only the clear and bold proclamation of gospel-truth, but he also modeled urgent and compassionate exhortations to respond to the gospel. We must do the same.

3. Call for a response in WARNING AGAINST UNBELIEF.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel that saves. The gospel of Jesus Christ delivers from hell. No other message on the planet can save from eternal perdition. No other Name given to sinners can deliver from damnation. No other substitutionary work can atone for sins and remove God’s just fury. The good news of Jesus Christ and His cross-work and His imputed righteousness is what saves. It is for this reason that every evangelist should incorporate into his gospel conversations a warning against unbelief. Repeatedly, Jesus said that whoever does not have the Son does not have the Father. Whoever rejected the Apostles in their itinerant preaching rejected the Son and whoever rejected the Son rejected the Father. No one can have the Father without the Son. None can say yes to the Son and say no to the Father. There is no way to come to the Father but through the one door: Jesus Christ. He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No other path exists whereby one may come to God the Father. Tellers of the gospel must warn sinners of this! To not believe is to commit the sin of unbelief. To live in unbelief is to persist in willful sin. To refuse to bow the knee to Christ now is to live in unbelief and sin now. Christians should faithfully proclaim the gospel, diligently call sinners to respond to the gospel, and boldly warn sinners against rejecting the gospel and dying in the state of willful rejection of the truth (even after having heard the faithful gospel presented to them). Warn the sinner, O Christian!

4. Call for a response in COUNTING THE COST.

Jesus did not preach a gospel akin to many of the popular evangelists in the 21st century today. He never told His followers that they would enjoy wealth, happiness, better health, and certain peace in and of themselves. Rather, he told them to die to themselves. He commanded them to lose their lives. He told them to hate everything on earth in comparison with the supreme love they must have for Him alone. He required exclusive allegiance. He demanded that they forsake any and all other options of attaining righteousness. He warned them that they would die for the faith. He informed them that suffering would certainly come upon them. He spoke that they would be rejected, despised, mocked, and endure much hardship for the gospel. Yet he still called for sinners to respond to the gospel. Perhaps this is why many of the ‘followers’ (=disciples) of Jesus heard his teachings and then ‘left him and followed Him no more.’ A faithful gospel proclamation that models the heralding of Christ should include a plea to count the cost. Unless one gives up all his possessions (that is, a willingness to renounce everything and anything for the cause of Christ), he cannot be Christ’s disciple. O Christian, include this in your gospel call!

5. Call for a response in RELIANCE ON THE SPIRIT.

Jesus Himself preached that the Spirit gives life. No one can come to Me, Jesus said, unless the Spirit of God draws Him. One must be born from above and be born of the Spirit. Jesus believed that new life eternal does not come at a sinner’s own whim. No one enters heaven because of his own freewill. No one chooses Christ because he desires the fire insurance so as to escape hell merely. O Christian, evangelize with such a reliance on the Spirit that you understand that no dead sinner can come to life unless the Spirit of God regenerates him first. Life must first enter the sinner before he can call out to Christ in saving faith and be justified. Rely on the Spirit in all your gospel conversations! Pray passionately! Pray persistently! Pray constantly! Pray believingly! Call sinners to respond to the gospel with all the persuasive mechanisms you have — and yet realize that you can’t do anything in the slightest to save someone, or even make them desire it more. It fully rests on the sovereignty of the Spirit. So call for a response as you confidently trust in the Sovereign grace of the Spirit of God to take your words and bring life.

6. Call for a response in COMPASSION FOR THE SINNER.
A sick patient sitting in the doctor’s office may hear the news of a life-threatening illness that has come into his body and as the doctor gives him the news and the grave consequences, the doctor who really loves his patient will offer the one medicine that can deliver the person from death. He not only describes the only solution available; he urges the patient to receive it — immediately. The physician does this because he cares for his patients. And how much more must the child of God proclaim the gospel to the lost and hellbound out of great love for their immortal souls! The Christian has the only solution to escape hell. The child of God knows the only path to escaping the tidal wave of God’s rage. The believer possesses the only shield and refuge to protect from the flaming and soul-piercing darts of God’s eternal fury. In telling the good news of salvation, the Christian should call for a response out of deep compassion for the sinner. O may the sinner escape hell. O call for the rebel to run for refuge to Jesus Christ! O plead with the transgressor to come to Christ, the wrath-bearing sacrifice who died for His people and offers them His righteousness through repentance and faith in Him. O may the evangelist’s compassion boil! O may the proclaimer run after sinners and plead with them, hold to them, persuade them, and urge them to flee from the wrath to come with a Christ-like and a Christ-pursuing passion!

Reposted by Permission from Pastor Geoffrey Kirkland
HT: Vassal of the King

The Impeccability of Christ – Pink

This is a good reminder as we move into the weekend that Christ was not only sinless and did no sin, but that He could not have sinned. It was not within His nature. If you get this part of theology incorrect, you will get other parts wrong. We hope you will enjoy this writing from A.W. Pink.

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We are living in a world of sin, and the fearful havoc it has wrought is evident on every side. How refreshing, then, to fix our gaze upon One who is immaculately holy, and who passed through this scene unspoilt by its evil. Such was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate. For thirty-three years He was in immediate contact with sin, yet He was never, to the slightest degree, contaminated. He touched the leper, yet was not defiled, even ceremonially. Just as the rays of the sun shine upon a stagnant pool without being sullied thereby, so Christ was unaffected by the iniquity which surrounded Him. He ‘did no sin’ (1 Pet. 2:22), ‘in Him is no sin’ (1 John 3:5 and contrast 1:8), He ‘knew no sin’ (2 Cor. 5:21), He was ‘without sin’ (Heb. 4:15). He was ‘holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners’ (Heb. 7:26).

But not only was Christ sinless, He was impeccable, that is, incapable of sinning. No attempt to set forth the doctrine of His wondrous and peerless person would be complete, without considering this blessed perfection. Sad indeed is it to behold the widespread ignorance thereon today, and sadder still to hear and read this precious truth denied. The last Adam differed from the first Adam in His impeccability. Christ was not only able to overcome temptation, but He was unable to be overcome by it. Necessarily so, for He was ‘the Almighty’ (Rev. 1:8). True, Christ was man, but He was the God-man, and as such, absolute Master and Lord of all things. Being Master of all things—as His dominion over the winds and waves, diseases and death, clearly demonstrated—it was impossible that anything should master Him.

The immutability of Christ proves His impeccability, or incapability of sinning: ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever’ (Heb. 13:8). Because He was not susceptible to any change, it was impossible for the incarnate Son of God to sin. Herein we behold again His uniqueness. Sinless angels fell, sinless Adam fell: they were but creatures, and creaturehood and mutability are, really, correlative terms. But was not the manhood of Christ created? Yes, but it was never placed on probation, it never had a separate existence. From the very first moment of its conception in the virgin’s womb, the humanity of Christ was taken into union with His Deity; and therefore could not sin.

The omnipotence of Christ proves His impeccability. That the Lord Jesus, even during the days of His humiliation, was possessed of omnipotence, is clear from many passages of Scripture. ‘What things so ever He (the Father) doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise….For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will’ (John 5:19, 21). When we say that Christ possessed omnipotence during His earthly sojourn, we do not mean that He was so endowed by the Holy Spirit, but that He was essentially, inherently, personally, omnipotent. Now to speak of an omnipotent person yielding to sin, is a contradiction in terms. All temptation to sin must proceed from a created being, and hence it is a finite power; but impossible is it for a finite power to overcome omnipotency.

The constitution of Christ’s person proves His impeccability. In Him were united (in a manner altogether incomprehensible to created intelligence) the Divine and the human natures. Now ‘God cannot be tempted with evil’ (James 1:13); ‘it is impossible for God to lie’ (Heb. 6:18). And Christ was ‘God manifest in flesh’ (1 Tim. 3:16); ‘Immanuel’—God with us (Matt. 1:23). Personality centered not in His humanity. Christ was a Divine person, who had been ‘made in the likeness of men’ (Phil. 2:7). Utterly impossible was it, then, for the God-man to sin. To affirm the contrary, is to be guilty of the most awful blasphemy. It is irreverent speculation to discuss what the human nature of Christ might have done if it had been alone. It never was alone; it never had a separate existence; from the first moment of its being it was united to a Divine person.

It is objected to the truth of Christ’s impeccability that it is inconsistent with His temptability. A person who cannot sin, it is argued, cannot be tempted to sin. As well might one reason that because an army cannot be defeated, it cannot be attacked. ‘Temptability depends upon the constitutional susceptibility, while impeccability depends upon the will. So far as His natural susceptibility, both physical and mental, was concerned, Jesus Christ was open to all forms of human temptation, excepting those that spring out of lust, or corruption of nature. But His peccability, or the possibility of being overcome by these temptations, would depend upon the amount of voluntary resistance which He was able to bring to bear against them. Those temptations were very strong, but if the self-determination of His holy will was stronger than they, then they could not induce Him to sin, and He would be impeccable. And yet plainly He would be temptable’ (W.G. Shedd, 1889).

Probably there were many reasons why God ordained that His incarnate Son should be tempted by men, by the Devil, by circumstances. One of these was to demonstrate His impeccability. Throw a lighted match into a barrel of gunpowder, and there will be an explosion; throw it into a barrel of water, and the match will be quenched. This, in a very crude way, may be taken to illustrate the difference between Satan’s tempting us and his tempting of the God-man. In us, there is that which is susceptible to his ‘fiery darts’; but the Holy One could say, ‘The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me’ (John 14:30). The Lord Jesus was exposed to a far more severe testing and trying than the first Adam was, in order to make manifest His mighty power of resistance.

‘We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, without sin’ (Heb. 4:15). ‘This text teaches that the temptations of Christ were ‘without sin’ in their source and nature, and not merely, as the passage is sometimes explained, that they were ‘without sin’ in their result. The meaning is not, that our Lord was tempted in every respect exactly as fallen man is-by inward lust, as well as by other temptations—only He did not outwardly yield to any temptation; but that He was tempted in every way that man is, excepting by that class of temptations that are sinful, because originating in evil and forbidden desire.

‘The fact that Christ was almighty and victorious in His resistance does not unfit Him to be an example for imitation to a weak and sorely-tempted believer. Because our Lord overcame His temptations, it does not follow that His conflict and success was an easy one for Him. His victory cost Him tears and blood. ‘His visage was so marred more than any man’ (Isa. 52:14). There was the ‘travail of His soul’ (Isa. 52:14). In the struggle He cried, ‘O My Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from Me’ (Matt. 26:39). Because an army is victorious, it by no means follows that the victory was a cheap one’ (W.G.T. Shedd).

One other objection may, perhaps, be noted, though we hesitate to defile these pages by even transcribing the filthy exhalations of the carnal mind. If the humanity of Christ was, because of its union to His Divine person, incapable of sinning, then in view of its being Divinely sustained how could it hunger and thirst, suffer and die? and seeing it did, then why was it incapable of yielding to temptation? It is sufficient answer to this impious question to point out that, while the Mediator was commissioned to die (John 10:18), He was not commissioned to sin. The human nature of Christ was permitted to function freely and normally: hence it wearied and wept; but to sin is not a normal act of human nature.

To be the Redeemer of His people, Christ must be ‘mighty to save, travelling in the greatness of His strength’ (Isa. 63:1). He must have power to overcome all temptation when it assails His person, in order that He may be able to ‘succour them that are tempted’ (Heb. 2:18). Here then is one of the solid planks in that platform on which the faith of the Christian rests: because the Lord Jesus is Almighty, having absolute power over sin, the feeble and sorely-tried saint may turn to Him in implicit confidence, seeking His efficacious aid. Only He who triumphed over sin, both in life and in death, can save me from my sins.

Taken from Studies in the Scriptures, Sept. 1932.

HT: Grace Online Library