“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you,
brethren beloved of the Lord,
because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation
through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
whereunto he called you by our gospel,
to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14
The first work of grace is to kill rather than to make alive; to wound rather than to heal; to bring down rather than to lift up; to reveal the law rather than the gospel. For “balm is useless to the unfeeling.” Salvation with all its superabounding grace is but an empty sound to those who have never felt themselves cut off from all help or all hope. So, in a sense, there is a calling under and through, if not by the law, in the first teaching and operations of the Spirit of God, bringing the soul under its condemnation as a ministration of death. But when the law has done its office, and the sinner is slain by its killing power, then there comes to his aid and deliverance, what the Apostle speaks of here, the calling by the gospel.
When the gospel utters its melodious voice; when pardon is proclaimed through the sacrifice of Jesus; when peace reaches the heart through atoning blood revealed to the conscience; when the glad tidings of salvation by grace are no longer a mere sound in the letter, but are made the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; when heavenly light shines into the mind; when divine power attends the word to the soul; when faith is raised up, hope casts its anchor within the veil, and the love of God is shed abroad, then and there is the calling of which the Apostle here speaks—a calling by the gospel.
The sound of the gospel trumpet, like the silver trumpet on the great day of jubilee, reaches the ear and heart of the captive exile and he hasteneth that he may be loosed (Isa. 51:14). The scene now changes; the storms of God’s wrath blow over; the day-star appears in the dawning morn of the gospel day, “a morning without clouds” (2 Sam. 23:4), until the Sun of righteousness in due time rises with healing in his wings. As, then, the gospel is thus made the power of God unto salvation, the soul is enabled to listen to, and embrace it as a joyful sound. Now just in proportion as faith receives it, hope anchors in it, and love embraces it, is evidence given of our being from the beginning chosen unto salvation.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869