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2. Effectual Call

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The next step in the salvation process is the effectual call. Romans 8:30 says, “And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.” It is clear that this was not just a hearing of the gospel, often referred to as the general call, but an effectual one because these people responded to the message and were justified—made as though they had never sinned. Wayne Grudem said this about the effectual call:

This kind of calling is a summons from the king of the universe; it is a summons that can’t be denied, and it brings about the desired response in people’s hearts. This calling is an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith. Because it comes from God and always results in saving faith, it is sometimes referred to as effective calling.1

A great example of this is in the story of Paul preaching the gospel to Lydia in Acts, and God opening her heart to the message in such a way that she repented. Acts 16:14 says, “A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, a God-fearing woman, listened to us. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying.” Likewise, when anyone is saved, it happens because a person hears the gospel and God opens his or her heart to it, so the person can be saved.

Irresistible Call

It must also be noted that the effectual call is irresistible, unlike the general call. When Paul describes it in Romans 8:30, he essentially says those who are called, will be justified and glorified. The chain is unbroken. Christ taught the same thing in John 6:37, “Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away.” The ones that God has given Christ are the elect—those predestined to salvation before time (Eph 1:4). At some point, God will effectually call them, and they will respond. In John 6:44, Christ emphasized this, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Though the general call is often rejected; when God effectually calls the elect, they will respond—leading to justification and eventual glorification (Rom 8:30).

Matthew Barrett, author of 40 Questions About Salvation, summarized it this way:

While God has a gospel call for all people, he also has an effectual call that is only for his elect. Unlike the gospel call, which can be resisted, when God calls his elect he does so effectually, irresistibly, and unfailingly. Therefore, the success of God’s special call is not dependent upon anything in man or upon anything man does. God’s effectual call is according to his good purpose and grace alone, thereby ensuring that God receives all the glory in our salvation.2

Reflection

  1. What is the effectual call?
  2. Why is the effectual call irresistible?
  3. How did you experience the effectual call?
  4. What questions or applications did you take from the reading?

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

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1 Grudem, Wayne A. Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know. Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

2 Barrett, Matthew. 40 Questions About Salvation (40 Questions & Answers Series). Kregel Academic. Kindle Edition.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Soteriology (Salvation)

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