The Book of John

Thursday: Jesus and Lazarus


Theme: Two Kinds of Calls
In this week’s lessons on the raising of Lazarus, we see that it points to Jesus as the only one who can take us from the state of spiritual death and make us spiritually alive.
Scripture: John 11:1-44
Now you see, in theology what that refers to is the effectual call. There are two different kinds of call according to Scripture. There’s a general call, by which you give to anybody the invitation to come to Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. That invitation is there in Scripture. You find it from the beginning to the end. But, you see, that general call in itself doesn’t save anybody. What is necessary is the specific, effectual call of Jesus Christ, which is conveyed to the individual through the general call. When that effectual call comes, it brings forth life in one that was spiritually dead, and as a result of that they believe on Jesus.
Some people say, “Well, if I believe on Jesus, then, he’ll give me life.” No it isn’t that way. It’s the other way around. Jesus gives life, and because he gives life, we believe on him. First life, then faith, and then all of the other fruits of regeneration. Do you remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus? He said to him, “You must be born again.” It’s a way of saying the same thing that we find here in this story. You have to hear the call of Jesus Christ, and it is that call of Christ that gives life. Just as you did not bring about your physical birth, so you do not bring about your spiritual birth. Only God can do that.
In Romans 8:29-30, Paul gives us a sequence of our salvation: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. Those who in eternity past he chose or predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, he called to himself at a particular point in history. And when they hear the call of Jesus Christ, life is given by him who is the resurrection and the life. When they hear that effectual call, they come alive, believe, and are justified through faith. And because they are called by God, they are kept, preserved, and finally are glorified. That is the way God saves us.
There’s one other thing to be seen in this, which is that the end result of it all is God’s glory. You see that in the story of Lazarus, too. At the beginning, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he said, “This sickness will not end in death.” He said this because though he knew Lazarus would die, yet it wouldn’t end in death because Jesus was going to raise him from the dead. “No,” he said, “it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” God saves men and women so that all the glory goes to him. Even the choice they make to follow Jesus happens because God has first done a work in their hearts and caused them to come in saving faith. Our salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end.
As the story communicates to us, we’re dead in trespasses and sins, and are therefore unable to do anything for ourselves. We are without hope and without God in the world, utterly unresponsive in ourselves even when the gospel is preached. What is necessary is a making alive within us, which is accomplished by Jesus as he calls us by name, and thus all glory for our salvation goes to him.
Let’s make a few points from this story that seem to me are related to this. The first is that sin kills. If we are talking about salvation, we’re talking about salvation from sin, and here Jesus through John’s Gospel is portraying it in an image of a resurrection. If you put the two together, what that really means is that the wages of sin is death, as Paul puts it in Romans. People don’t know that today, because they think that by pursuing simple pleasures, they’re finding life. And exactly the opposite is the case. They say, “Oh, I don’t want to become religious. That’s just about the deadliest thing I can think of. I want to live and enjoy life! But what they don’t realize when they think and act this way is that it is the way of sin, which is actually the way of death. Sin kills. It kills physically, psychologically, relationally, and, above all, spiritually. Sin separates us from God, and spiritual death is a separation from God, not only here in this life but also forever.
Study Questions:

List and explain the two kinds of calls.
From the lesson, sin is said to kill physically, psychologically, relationally, and spiritually. Explain how sin kills in each of these areas.

Key Point: You have to hear the call of Jesus Christ, and it is that call of Christ that gives life. Just as you did not bring about your physical birth, so you do not bring about your spiritual birth. Only God can do that.

Study Questions
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