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Sermon #2404 — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: Irresistible Grace
Text: Luke 19:5-6
Subject: Effectual Calling
Date: Monday Evening — March 12, 2011
Twinbrook Hills Baptist Church
I want to talk to you for a little while about Irresistible Grace. That’s my subject. That’s the title of my message — Irresistible Grace. The Scriptures plainly and universally declare this doctrine. Irresistible grace is a Bible doctrine. It was promised to Christ, as he took his seat upon the throne of glory, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psalm 110:3). David considered this a matter for great thanksgiving and praise. He said, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest,” (That is God’s election.), “and causest to approach unto thee.” (That is the Spirit’s effectual call, or irresistible grace — Psalm 65:4) The Lord Jesus said, with regard to his elect, redeemed sheep —”Them also I must bring” (John 10:16). He does not say he might bring them if they would consent to being brought, or if their will is not too strong in rebellion against his will. No! The Son of God must bring all God’s elect to glory, because he is the Good Shepherd responsible for their salvation.
Without question, God’s saving grace, the work of God the Holy Ghost in the new birth, in regeneration, calling, and conversion is irresistible. All who have experienced grace know the irresistible power of grace. I do not suggest that chosen sinners repent and trust Christ the first time they hear the gospel, or that they do not resist the Spirit’s call. All men resist this call.
But there is a personal, particular, effectual call of the Spirit given to chosen sinners at the appointed time of love (Ezekiel 16:6-8) that cannot be resisted. As the Lord Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb and he that was dead came forth; so when the Spirit of God calls the elect to repentance and faith in Christ, spiritually dead sinners are raised to life and come to Christ. This is the first resurrection (John 5:25; Revelation 20:6). No, God does not save anyone against his will. Rather, he makes chosen sinners willing in the day of his power.
Those who would not (John 5:40) and could not (John 6:44) come to Christ by their freewill or good works are brought to Christ by the sovereign power and effectual, irresistible grace of God the Holy Spirit. — “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). Aren’t you glad God would not take “No” for an answer from you?
There are many, many pictures and examples of God’s almighty, omnipotent, saving, irresistible grace given in Holy Scripture.
Š Mephibosheth — “Fetch him!”
Š Ezekiel 15
Š Ezekiel 37
Š Saul of Taraus
But we will look at just one of them tonight. Open your Bibles to the 19th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, and we look at the picture there given of God’s Irresistible Grace in the conversion of Zacchaeus. — Luke 19:1-10.
(Luke 19:1) “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. (2) And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. (3) And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. (4) And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. (5) And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. (6) And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. (7) And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. (8) And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. (9) And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. (10) For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
(Luke 19:5-6) “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. (6) And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.”
Do you know anything of the love-calls of our omnipotent Savior? It is impossible not to know them, if you have ever heard them. The soul that hears the voice of the Son of God, though he never heard it before, knows the sweet sound of the Shepherd’s voice. When the Savior speaks to a sinner dead in trespasses and sins, he speaks with…
Š A Loud Voice (John 11:43).
Š A Powerful Voice (John 11:44; Psalm 29:3-11).
Š A Still Small Voice (1 Kings 19:9-14).
Š A Sweet, Loving, Winning Voice (Song 5:2).
Š And A Personal Voice (Luke 19:5).
Oh, may he whose voice awakes the dead speak to you this hour by his Word!
In order to introduce my message to you, and in order to prepare our hearts for the message, I want to share with you four things that God has taught me by his Spirit.
1. It is my responsibility to preach the gospel to all men as the Lord gives me opportunity (Mark 16:15-16).
(Mark 16:15-16) “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (16) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
I recognize that the greatest privilege that has ever been bestowed upon a man is the privilege of preaching the gospel, to speak to eternity bound men and women on God’s behalf. The highest calling in the world, the greatest privilege that can be given to a mortal man, is to be sent of God to proclaim the gospel of redeeming grace to perishing men. But, while this is the greatest privilege in the world, it is also the greatest responsibility in the world. It is an awesome thing to speak to men with immortal souls on the behalf of the eternal God. In fulfilling this responsibility, basically, three things are required of me.
2. It is your responsibility to repent and believe the gospel (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
“God commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” — I rejoice to declare to all men everywhere, that any sinner in all the world who will call upon Christ in true faith shall be saved. It is written, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I know that you are responsible before God to believe that which is plainly revealed in his Word. And I know that if you will believe on Christ God will save you.
3. Yet, I know that no man by nature can or will come to Christ. You have neither the desire nor the ability to trust Christ in yourself (John 5:40; 6:44).
It is not within the realm of man’s power, and it is not within the scope of his heart’s desire to come to Christ. Unless God does for a sinner what that sinner cannot and will not do for himself, he will perish.
4. And I know that true saving faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).
If any man comes to Christ and believes on Christ unto life everlasting, he does so because God has drawn him to Christ by the effectual power and irresistible grace of his Spirit. True faith is the result of, not the cause of, divine grace. Saving faith is created in a man’s heart by the mighty, sovereign operations of God the Holy Ghost in omnipotent, saving grace (Ephesians 1:19; Colossians 2:12).
This creation of faith in the heart, by which a person is drawn to Christ, is what we call “Effectual Calling” and “Irresistible Grace.” The effectual calling of the Holy Spirit is that sovereign, gracious, irresistible work and operation of God the Holy Ghost, which changes a man’s heart and will, causing him to come to Christ and be saved.
Proposition: Irresistible grace is the tender influence, overpowering love, compelling grace, and irresistible power of God the Holy Ghost which causes a sinner to gladly and willingly receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Those who by nature, if left to themselves, would not come to Christ, are made willing to come to him God’s almighty, omnipotent, irresistible grace.
Perhaps the clearest illustration of God’s irresistible grace is the story of the calling and conversion of Zacchaeus. You remember the story. Zacchaeus was very curious about this man, Jesus of Nazareth, who was turning the world upside down with his doctrine. The fame of our Lord’s miracles, the authority of his speech, and the spirituality of his doctrine caused great excitement among the people, and greatly stirred Zacchaeus’ curiosity.
One day, our Lord came through Jericho, the place where Zacchaeus lived. As usual, great crowds gathered around him. Zacchaeus was very curious. He really wanted to see this famous man. But he was a little man; and he could not see over the heads of the people. So, Zacchaeus climbed up in one of the trees, like the little boys, to see the unusual procession. He wanted to see this famous person. But before he could get a sight of Christ, Christ fixed the eye of his grace and love on him. — “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully”(vv. 5-6).
Be sure you get the facts straight. — It was the Lord Jesus who came to Zacchaeus, not Zacchaeus who came to the Savior. It was the Son of God who called “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down,” not Zacchaeus who called the Son of God. And when the Savior called him, Zacchaeus “made haste and came down.”
Taking this delightful story of Zacchaeus as our basis, I want to show you eight things about the blessed, sweet, saving call of God’s grace, by which chosen, redeemed sinners are caused to come to Christ and receive him gladly.
A Gracious Call
1st — The call of Zacchaeus was a very gracious call (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). Of all the people you might suspect to be the objects of mercy and salvation, Zacchaeus would be the very last. He is what some folks would call, “a very unlikely candidate for grace.”
But that which seemed most likely to exclude him from all heavenly bliss, made him all the more a likely candidate for mercy. Christ is the friend of sinners. He came to save sinners. Grace knows no distinctions. Grace is no respecter of persons. God calls whom he will. He has mercy on whom he will. The calling of God the Holy Spirit is always a very gracious call.
(1 Corinthians 1:26-29) “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence.”
Š The Lord God has called us out of darkness into light.
Š He has called us out of bondage into liberty.
Š He called us out of death into life.
Š We have been called by divine grace into a state of peace, righteousness, and joy in the fellowship of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31) “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
A Personal Call
2nd — The calling of Zacchaeus was a personal call (John 10:3). The Good Shepherd “calleth his own sheep by name.” There were many in the crowded streets of Jericho that day. It seems likely that there were many boys, teenagers, and young men in the trees which lined the street. But, lest there should be some mistake about who was called, the Lord said, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down.”
Spurgeon said, “When the Holy Ghost comes home to a man, God’s arrow goes right into his heart. It does not graze his helmet, or make some little mark upon his armor, but it penetrates between the joints of the harness, entering the marrow of the soul.”
(John 11:43-44) “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. (44) And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.”
A Demanding Call
3rd — This call, which our Lord gave to Zacchaeus, was a call that demanded an immediate response (Psalm 95:6-9).
(Psalms 95:6-9) “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. (7) For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today if ye will hear his voice, (8) Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: (9) When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.”
The Lord said, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down.” God’s grace always comes to men with urgency, demanding an immediate response in the heart. If the Lord God speaks to a man’s heart, he will run after him, without delay. — “Draw me, and we will run after thee.” — “Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.”
Am I called? And can it be!
Has my Savior chosen me?
Guilty, wretched as I am,
Has He named my worthless name?
Vilest of the vile am I.
Dare I raise my hopes so high?
Am I called? I dare not stay,
May not, must not disobey;
Here I lay me at Thy feet,
Clinging to the mercy-seat:
Thine I am and Thine alone;
Lord, with me, Thy will be done.
A Humbling Call
4th — When our Lord called Zacchaeus, it was a very humbling call. ¾ “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down” (Psalm 51:17).
(Psalms 51:17) “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
God always humbles the sinner he intends to save. Grace knows how to bring the sinner down (Psalm 107).
1. O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
3. And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
4. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
5. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
6. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
7. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
8. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
9. For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
10. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;
11. Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:
12. Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.
13. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.
14. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.
15. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
16. For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.
17. Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.
18. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.
19. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.
20. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
21. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
22. And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
23. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24. These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
25. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
27. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.
28. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
29. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
31. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
32. Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
33. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;
34. A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
35. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.
36. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;
37. And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.
38. He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.
39. Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.
40. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.
41. Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.
42. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.
43. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.
Mark this down and remember it. ¾ God never plants the white flag of peace in a man’s soul, until the white flag of surrender has been raised in his heart. God never reveals his grace until he breaks the neck of rebellion. ¾ Total Surrender. God has many ways of bringing his chosen objects of mercy down in the dust of repentance.
(Zechariah 12:10-14) “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (11) In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. (12) And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; (13) The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; (14) All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.”
(Zechariah 13:1) “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.”
An Affectionate Call
5th — This call, which our Lord issued to Zacchaeus, was an affectionate call. – “Today I must abide at thy house” (Jeremiah 31:3). Our Lord went to be a guest in the home of a notorious sinner. It is still his delight to do so.
(Jeremiah 31:3) “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
A Necessary Call
6th — Now, I want you to notice also that this was a necessary call. Our Lord said, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for today; I must abide at thy house.” (It is absolutely essential for me to do so!) I love to read that word “must” as it relates to the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation of our souls.
The salvation of God’s elect is an absolute necessity with God. Every blood-bought sinner must be called to life in Christ by the power of God the Holy Ghost.
Our Lord seems to say to Zacchaeus, “I must come to your house with the blessings of my grace. My love and grace toward you compel me. I told my Father before the world was that I would save you. Now I must come. I am determined to make you willing in this day of my power to have me.”
NOTE: There was not one sign of resistance. Zacchaeus was perfectly willing for Christ to come home with him (Psalms 65:4; 110:3).
NOTE: This is how Christ saves sinners. He opens the door of your heart, invites himself in, and makes himself welcome. — “Salvation is of the Lord!” This is irresistible grace!
An Immutable Call
7th — Again, this was an immutable call (Romans 11:29). Look at the text again. ¾ “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” The grace of God is immutable. When Christ comes into a man’s heart, he is not a visiting guest. He is a permanent resident of the house. He takes his rightful place as Master of the house.
An Effectual Call
8th — And this call of God the Holy Ghost, this call of Zacchaeus to salvation and life in Christ is an irresistible, effectual call (v. 6). Our Lord said, “Make haste and come down and he made haste and come down, and received him joyfully!”
When the Lord Jesus Christ calls sinners to himself by the omnipotent, irresistible grace and power of God the Holy Ghost, those sinners whom he calls come to him and receive him joyfully.
Illustration: Hosea and Gomer
1. Who are those that are called by the Holy Spirit?
Š All who were chosen of God in eternal election.
Š All who were redeemed by Christ at Calvary.
Š All who come to Christ in faith.
2. A word to the proud. You must come down, come down to the nail-pierced feet of the Son of God. The grace of God runs not upon the lofty mountains of pride, but in the low valleys of humiliation. You must come down!
3. A word to you who desire and seek the salvation of Christ. — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
If you truly desire salvation by Christ, it is because he sent his Spirit to call you. Does the heavy burden of sin press you down? Stand against it no longer. Come down to the foot of the cross. Weary sinners lose their burdens only there. The Lord Jesus Christ says to sinners, “Come, and welcome!”
Illustration: The Handkerchief
Come humble sinner, in whose breast
A thousand thoughts revolve;
Come with your guilt and fear oppressed,
And make this last resolve.
“I’ll go to Jesus, though my sins
Like mountains round me close;
I know his courts, I’ll enter in,
Whatever may oppose.
“Prostrate I’ll lie before his throne,
And there my guilt confess;
I’ll tell him I’m a wretch undone
Without his sovereign grace.”
I’ll to the gracious King approach,
Whose scepter pardon gives;
Perhaps He may command my touch,
And then the suppliant lives!
Perhaps He will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there.
I can but perish if I go,
I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away, I know,
I must forever die.
But if I die with mercy sought,
When I the King have tried,
This were to die (Delightful thought!) —
As sinner never died!”
Illustration: Happy Jack
“I am a poor sinner and nothing at all
But Jesus Christ is all in all!”