The subject of the service for this Lord’s Day is “The Effectual Call” (article 10 in the Baptist Confess of Faith). It refers to the initiative God takes to bring his people to salvation. He does this—not because of anything in our character or because of what we do. He calls us on the basis of his gracious intentions. When he calls us, the call is effectual, that is, it accomplishes God’s intended purpose. The instrument that God uses to accomplish his purpose is his Word applied by his Spirit.
The hymns selected for this service all describe God’s gracious initiative in our salvation. Note: We recently sang two of these hymns. We will repeat them this week, emphasizing the theme of the effectual call as it appears in certain verses.
PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP
Call to Worship Deuteronomy 7:6-8
Hymn 333 How Sad Our State
Note: We sang this hymn as we recently considered the “bondage of the will.” That describes the human condition as a sad state, indeed. But notice the solution to this state declared in verse two:
“My soul obeyed th’almighty call and ran to this relief;
I would believe thy promise, Lord, O help my unbelief.
Unto the fountain of thy blood, Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul from crimes of deepest dye.”
Worship through Giving
Hymn 238 How Sweet and Awful Is the Place
Note: We often sing this beautiful hymn as we observe the Lord’s Table. Notice the connection it makes with the theme of the effectual call through a question and its answer:
Why was I made to hear Thy voice
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast, (the body and blood of Jesus)
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.
Scripture Reading John 3:1-8
Note: In this famous conversation Jesus made clear to Nicodemus that salvation belongs only to those who receive a “new birth” from the Spirit of God. Furthermore, the Spirit grants this new birth, or spiritual life, according to his own purposes.
Hymn 385 Jehovah Tsidkenu
Note: Robert Murray McCheyne wrote this beautiful poem to depict the awakening the Spirit gives in order to draw us to the truth of the Gospel,
“When free grace awoke me by light from on high . . .
Jehovah Tsidkenu (the LORD my righteousness)
My Savior must be.”
Message God’s Gracious Initiative
Pastor Steven Thomas
Hymn 335 And Can It Be That I Should Gain
Note: We conclude the service with a hymn filled with both joy and wonder at the great awakening God gives when he calls his people to Christ.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening (life-giving) ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Prayer Response John Miles
Benediction John Miles