After satisfaction has been done to divine judgment on behalf of men, and the latter have, by this means, been reconciled to God, it pleases the Lord Jesus to have this work of grace announced to them by the preaching of the Gospel, thus inviting them to be partakers of his mercy.
439. The Lord Jesus Christ has brought about a reconciliation between God and sinful men, so that now nothing is hindering them from acknowledging and accepting this benefit with grateful hearts. In which latter act the Lord Jesus again faithfully assists them, in order to lead them to their heavenly rather. But for the better understanding of the same, we have to inquire:
I. In which manner the Lord Jesus, proceeds in this act, and
II. Which means he employs to bring about the desired effect.
440. Christ is brought near to the sinner:
a. by the calling,
b. by repentance,
c. by justification,
d. hy conversion,
e. by renewing,
f. by the new birth,
g. by the union with Christ.
441. a. The calling is the first act, by which men are requested to become partakers of the benefits of Christ; this calling we stand in great need of. Suppose a prison being filled with prisoners who had all been ransomed; but as long as this their redemption is not communicated to them, and they requested to leave the prison, their redemption would be of no avail to them. Exactly so this great work of mercy, by which Christ has delivered us from the pains of hell by his blood, would be of no avail, if we had it not announced to us, and if we were not requested to become partakers of the benefits connected therewith.
442. That this might be brought about, the Son of God has taken upon him the office of prophet and teacher, in the exercise of which he has instructed men of the mercy which God intends to bestow upon them. Concerning this office four points are to considered viz:
1. The providential ways in which he leads all men, whereby he becomes their teacher,
2. what it is that he teaches,
3. whom he teaches,
4. to which purpose he teaches and for which reasons.
443. 1. Christ exercises the office of a teacher, being the instructor of all mankind. This is a truly divine office, which the Lord Jesus ascribes to himself, Isa. 48, 17: “I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.”- The same function the Lord Jesus applies unto himself when he says Matth. 11, 27: “No man knoweth the father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.”
444: Christ’s title to such functions can be proved:
a. From the predictions of the prophets, Deutr. 18, 15: “The Lord thy God will raise up a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethern like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; Isai. 50, 4: “the Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know to speak a word in season to him that is weary;” ibid. 61, 1. 2: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
b. By the voice of his heavenly Father, Matth. 17, 5: “Behold a voice out of the cloud, which said: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him.”
c. By the miracles by which he supported his preaching, so that his hearers were obliged to confess: “This is of a truth that prophet, that should come into the world,” John. 6, 14; “a great prophet is risen up amongst us;” and that “God hath visited his people.”
445. 2. What it is, the Lord Jesus has been teaching. The fact is that he taught nothing else but the Gospel, which is the merciful message concerning the gracious purposes of God, the forgiveness of our sins and eternal salvation, all which have their source solely in the grace of God and the merits of Christ.
446. Although it has been proved already, that Christ has not abolished the law; yet can he not be called a preacher of the law, because he is, in this respect put in opposition to Moses; John. 1, 17: “The law has been given by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ.” This is also plainly alluded to in Christ’s own teaching, which the Evangelist Matthew sums up’ in the following words, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven ts at hand, 4, 17. — And Christ himself advises his disciples to teach that “thus it behoved Christ to suffer…. and that remission of sins should be preached in his name, among all nations,” Luk. 24, 46. 47. — Accordingly the preaching of the Lord Jesus is an invitation to heaven for human kind, to repentance and forgiveness of sin; with other words an invitation to avail themselves of all the good things which the Lord Jesus has acquired for them by his blood and by his death. Which fact we find also referred to by Christ in the parable of the royal marriage-feast, Matth. 22, 3 and in that of the marriage supper, Luk. 14, 7.
447. The Apostles used to characterise their preaching by the following sentences; “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” Acts. 20, 27; — “For I determined not to know anything unto you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified,” 1. Cor. 2, 2; — “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead be ye reconciled to God; for he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God
in him,”” 2. Cor. 5, 19 ff. — This is the whole substance of the message, which the Lord Jesus had intended to lay before us, and to propose to us in his capacity as teacher,
448. 3. Whom he teaches. As the office of reconciliation and redemption concerns all mankind it becomes necessary hat all men should be instructed concerning it. This consideration would in itself be sufficient to prove that the call to Salvation has gone forth unto all men, without any exception. But lest some might be tormented by the painful thought, that God might not have called him to partake of his grace, and to become an heir of his kingdom, we. will try to prove the inexeptionable calling of all mankind, as follows:
449. a. The Lord Jesus calls all men to come to Mm, Matth. 11, 28: “Come unto me all ye that labour and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Now as all men must be said to labour and to be heavy laden, it follows that Christ has called them all unto him.
450. b. He has commanded that all men should be called and taught. Thus he commands his disciples Matth. 28, 19: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations”- etc.; Mark. 16, 15:.,Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel unto every creature,” which command his disciples faithfully executed, as we read in the same Chapter 5, 20: “they went forth, and preached every where.” Coloss. 1, 6: ” Which (Gospel) is come unto you as it is in all the world, and bringeth forth fruit;” V. 23: “Which (Gospel) was preached to every creature which is under heaven;” v. 28: “We preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” And St. Paul thus explains the commands which had been given to the Apostles by the Lord Jesus, Acts 17, 30: “Now (God) commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” We thus find that no man has been excluded from the merciful preaching of the Gospel, seeing
451. c. That all such thai do not come to the kingdom df Christ, nor avail themselves of the mercies which he has acquired for them, are punished, because of their not having listened
to this call. If God pronounces punishment over one because of his not having been obedient to his invitation, then we may be sure, that such a one has been called; now such is the case: God punishes with hellfire and. condemnation the unbelievers for the very reason of their not having been obedient to his call, which proves that the unbelievers also have surely been called by God.
452. The fact of the unbelievers also haying been called can be established by many passages of scripture. Proverb. 1, 24. if. “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity: I will mock when your fear cometh;” Isa. 65, 2. 5: “I nave stretched out my hands all the day long unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; these are smoke in my nose, a fire that bumeth all day.” Such passages are also Isa. 66, 4; Jerem. 7,13ff’.; more especially the parables, which the Lord Jesus made use of for the better elucidation of this subject. We turn to Luk. 14, 16 fF. and find there, that the Lord of the mansion had determined, v. 24, that none of those men which had been bidden should taste of his upper,” because they had rejected and refused his friendly invitation, which refusal caused his indignation to rise. — And the Lord Jesus declares expressly, John. 3, 18: “fie that believeth on him (the Son of God) is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son.
453. 4. To which purpose, and from what reason he has taught. If we look into the word of God, “we find that the Lord Jesus has taught mankind from no other reason, but
a. That they should repent, Matth. 4, 17: “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;” Act. 17, 30: “Now (God) commandeth all men, every where to repent;’^
b. That they might get forgiveness of sins, Luk. 24, 47: “That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.”
c. That they should be perfected in Christ, Coloss. 1, 28: “We preach warning every man, and teaching every man; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesu.”
d. That he might give them rest, Matth. 11, 28: “Come unto me etc. and / will give you rest.””
e. That they might enjoy the heavenly gifts, Isa. 55, 1: “Ho, every one, that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye buy and eat; ye, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price;” Matth. 22, 4: “I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my farthings are killed, and all things are ready, come unto the marriage;” Luk. 14, 17: ^Come, for all things are now ready, ”
f. Thai he might take them under his protection, Matth. 23, 37: “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as the hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.”
454. It has been asserted by some, that besides the above mentioned, God had still an other reason for calling men, which is, that by it to lead them to destruction, or that they might fall a victim to their own impenitence. But this assertion is not only against the light of reason, but is also nowhere to be found in holy writ. Thus we may rest assured, that our God is not desirous of misleading or bringing to destruction anybody by pretensions of this nature.