Effectual Calling


        The doctrine of Election teaches that God chose certain individuals to receive his saving grace. This took place         in eternity, before time. Particular redemption says that Christ died to appropriate that saving grace for those         chosen ones, when he died on the cross. Effectual calling says that God calls those chosen ones to repentance         and faith in Jesus Christ, by bestowing that saving grace upon them at the moment of their conversion. The         logical relationship between Election and Effectual Calling, also referred to as Irresistible Grace, is seen in         Rom 8:29 & 30:

             "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he              might be the firstborn among many / brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he              called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

        Foreknowledge (proginoskw). The word can mean to know beforehand, but when God is the subject of this         verb it carries the idea of choosing (election) and knowing in the sense of loving, and hence to love and to         choose beforehand. The same word is translated "chosen" in the NIV translation of 1 Pet 1:2 & 20 - "(God's         elect) who have been chosen (proginoskw) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father ... (Christ) was         chosen (proginoskw) before the creation of the world." Foreknowledge = God's choosing = Election

        Predestination. Election and predestination are two words in the theology of the New Testament which are         closely related. God: 1.) chose before eternity (election), certain persons whom he; 2.) destined for salvation         and eternal life. Predestination literally means to make certain or to secure someone's destiny beforehand.

        Calling. With regard to salvation, Foreknowledge and Predestination took place in eternity past, but God's         Calling takes place in space and time. Calling is that act by which God invites men to accept, by faith the         salvation provided by Christ. Scripture distinguishes between the general or external call to all men and the         special or effectual call to the elect.

        Examples from Scripture of God's general call:

             Is 45:22 - "Turn to me and be saved, all you the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no              other."

             Is 65:12 - "For I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my              sight and chose what displeases me."

             Mk 16:15 & 16 - "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever              believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

             Mt 22:3 - "He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come,              but they refused to come." Lk 14:23 - "Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and              country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.'" Note that those who              respond to the invitation must be compelled to come.

             Mt 22:14 - "For many are invited (called), but few are chosen." The many who are called are all              those who hear the gospel, this is the general call. The few who are chosen are those who hear              the special or effectual call, that is, hearing of the gospel produces in them the desired effect:              repentance and faith.

        Examples of God's special or effectual call:

             Rom 8:28 - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who              have been called according to his purpose."

             Rom 8:30 - "And those he predestined, he also called."

             1 Cor 1:23 - "But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews (to the Jews, who heard              the general call but did not respond, the crucifixion of Christ was a stumbling block) and              foolishness to Gentiles (to the Gentiles, who also heard the general call but did not respond, the              crucifixion of Christ was foolishness), but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks,              Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

        The ab/ breviated list of salvation progression in Rom 8:29 & 30, known to theologians as the Ordo Salutis, is         election, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. Where does regeneration fit in this list? The         answer is clear when we realize that Scripture speaks of two aspects of the effectual calling - God's call, and         our response. Regeneration follows God's call and precedes our response.

        Westminster Confession, Chapter X on effectual calling states:

             "All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his              appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, ..."

                  [By the instrument of the Word, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the invitation is                   communicated to us (remember the parable of the wedding feast, "many are called                   but few are chosen"). By the agency of the Spirit, we are enabled to respond to                   God's invitation or call to salvation. Original sin renders all human beings                   unresponsive to God's call. It is only by God's work, the work of regeneration or                   rebirth, that we are enabled to respond to the call, see Tit 3:5. The principle to be                   learned here is that regeneration precedes repentance and faith.]

             "... out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation              by Jesus Christ; ..."

                  [We are called out of one state and into another. Having been delivered from the                   bondage of the kingdom of darkness, we are led into the kingdom of his dear Son, in                   whom we believe, from whom we receive salvation and all the blessings that flow                   from it. This transition of states is sometimes called conversion which consists of                   turning from the world, the flesh, and the devil (repentance) and turning to God and                   Christ (faith).]

             "... enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,              ..."

                  [The Bible speaks of the lost and unconverted as being spiritually blind. Light is a                   type of the truth of God. God must heal us of our blindness before we can                   comprehend the truth of the Gospel and be saved. 2 Cor 4:4 - "The god of this age                   has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the                   gospel." Paul's conversion in Acts 26:12-18 is a profound example of God's                   effectual calling.]

             "... taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; ..."

                  [The heart is the seat of affections. We, in our sinful nature, love sin and hate                   righteousness. God must give us a love for him which we cannot have otherwise.                   Dt 30:6 - "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." Jer 31:31-34 - "'The time is coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will                   make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah... I will                   put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they                   will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his / brother,                   saying, "Know the LORD," because they will all know me, from the least of them                   to the greatest,' declares the LORD. 'For I will forgive their wickedness and will                   remember their sins no more.'"]

             "... renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is              good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so, as they come most freely,              being made willing by his grace."

                  [Though we are effectually drawn to Jesus Christ, there is no violation of the                   human will. The will is renewed and fully engaged in salvation. We are not forced.                   That is why many theologians prefer the term effectual rather than irresistible when                   referring to God's call or special grace. Jn 6:37- "All that the Father gives to me                   shall come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." Rom 6:17-                   "But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly                   obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted."]

        We must exercise our will to come to Christ. Rev 22:17 - "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever         wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." No one comes to Christ who is not willing, but it is not an         independent exercise of the will, we cannot come until our mind has been enlightened, our spirit has been made         alive, and our will has been renewed.

        Two important facts to remember regarding the special or effectual call:

          1.that the operation of God is the originating cause of that transformation which is characterized by              repentance, faith, and obedience.

          2.that the operation of God is not an outward constraint upon the human will, but an inward regeneration              of the will.

        2 Pet 1:10,11 - "Therefore, my / brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if         you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our         Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." What does this passage mean? This passage goes to the heart of the paradox of         election and free will. Election comes from God alone, our behavior cannot accomplish it, but can prove or         disprove it. Though repentance, faith, and obedience are fruits of the divine call and are impossible without it,         they are absolutely necessary, and are clearly and fairly our responsibility, because whereas before we were         unable, we have now been made able. A life of steady progress confirms his calling. His radiant life in us is         proof of God's election.