What made the difference? What explains the division between those who accept and those who reject the preaching of the good news? It is tempting to look for an explanation of the difference in the way we explain other differences between people, in terms of class, or occupation, or age or personality. But the evidence provided by the New Testament does not lend any support to such an approach, for an examination of the lives of those who became Christians reveals a great variety of backgrounds, not one common factor. Some Christians were rich (Luke 19:1-10) and some were poor (I Cor. 1:26). Some were free (Gal. 3:28), others were slaves (I Pet. 2:18). There were young and old, men and women, Jews and Gentiles. Besides, there is not the least suggestion that the apostles thought that their message was for a particular group or type, nor that they believed that what they said was tailored to be more acceptable to some than to others.
So what makes the difference? Why is it that some believe the good news and some do not? What explanation does Scripture itself offer?
Scripture teaches that besides the general ‘call’, the preaching of the gospel to all alike, there is a further ‘call’, a call from God which itself brings a response from those who are called, the response of repentance and faith in Christ and of sincere obedience to what God requires. Not all who are called are called in this sense. Not all who are called by the general preaching of the gospel are called by God in such a way as to ensure the appropriate response.