We’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in the 17th Century. Recently we’ve been answering questions about God’s church. Last time we saw that if you are effectually called by God, then your mind is enlightened. But what else happens if you are effectually called?
If you are called by God then God renews and powerfully determines your will so that you are willing and able to freely answer his call to be a Christian. Instead of rejecting God grace, you accept and embrace it.
Why do you need a renewed will? The Bible is clear that before God calls you, you can only reject God’s message – the good news about Christ falls on deaf ears – in fact, spiritually ‘dead’ ears. But when God effectually calls you to belong to him, then he gives you a new will that does respond to his message.
The prophet Ezekiel speaks of this change in your will as being like a heart transplant. God says: ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws’ (Ezekiel 36:24-27).
Meanwhile the prophet Moses describes this change in your will as being like a circumcision of the heart. In Deuteronomy we read: ‘The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live’ (Deuteronomy 30:6).
The apostle Paul reiterates this truth about the circumcision of the heart in the epistle he wrote to the Roman Church: ‘…circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God’ (Romans 2:29).
Both of these images of heart transplants and circumcision demonstrate that, when God calls you, something radical takes place inside. You become a different person and are attracted to the God that you previously repelled. Instead of wanting to disobey God’s word, you begin to love the Lord and follow his decrees and laws.
Thus the apostle Paul can tell Christians that God is doing a powerful work within them: ‘Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed– not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence– continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose’ (Philippians 2:12-13).
Paul calls Christians to do work for the Lord. But he understands that if they do good work, it is purely because the Lord has worked in them to will and act accordingly.
Do you want a renewed will so you can be willing to answer God’s call to be saved from your sins? Beg the Lord to renew your will today.