For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
John Calvin writes: “The minister’s teaching and speaking does no good unless God adds his inward calling to it. ... Preaching alone is just a dead letter, and we must beware lest a false imagination, or the semblance of secret illumination, leads us away from the Word on which faith depends.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.278, emphasis mine)
Calvin writes: “Now let Pighius asseverate that God wills all to be saved, when not even the external preaching of the doctrine, which is much inferior to the illumination of the Spirit, is made common to all.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.109, emphasis mine)
Calvin adds: “In a word, Paul indicates that all clamorous sounding of the human voice will lack effect, unless the virtue of God works internally in the heart.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.104, emphasis mine)
In other words, according to Calvin, the preaching of the Gospel is nothing more than clanging symbols if the hearer is not preemptively made Born Again and regenerated, in Christ, in order to believe and receive the message of the Gospel.
Do we really want to say that the Gospel is dead & inactive to all but those with Irresistible Grace?
Calvin comments: “God’s Word pierces to the dividing of soul and spirit. That means it tests the whole soul of a man. It inquires into his thoughts and it searches his will and all his desires. The same meaning is implied in the phrase of both joints and marrow. It means that there is nothing so hard or firm in a man, nothing so deeply hidden that the efficacy of the Word does not penetrate through to it. This is what Paul says in I Cor. 14:24, that prophecy has the power of convicting and judging men so that the secrets of the heart are made manifest. Since it is the function of Christ to uncover and to bring to light the thoughts that come from the innermost recesses of the heart, He does this in large measure through the Gospel. … There is no thicker darkness than that of disbelief, and hypocrisy makes us blind in a terrifying way. The Word of God scatters this darkness, and puts hypocrisy to flight. From this comes the discernment and the judgment which the apostle mentions, since the vices which lay hidden beneath a false façade of virtues now begin to be recognized and to have their varnish rubbed off.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Hebrews and I and II Peter, pp.52-53, emphasis mine)