Thursday, October 18, 2007

What is Effectual Calling?

Note: Last Sunday evening we began a new series on "The Order of Salvation." The first sermon was on "Effectual Calling." Here are my notes from that message:
What Is Effectual Calling?
JPBC October 14, 2007
Jeff Riddle

We begin tonight a series on the doctrine of salvation and "the order of salvation" in particular.
The question tonight: Why do some men come to Christ and some do not?

Return to the golden chain of redemption in Romans 8:30: "whom he predestined these he also called; whom he called, these he also justified." Those whom God foreknows and predestines, he calls, justifies, and glorifies.

I. Definition:

From Spurgeon’s Catechism:

Q: What is effectual calling?

A: Effectual calling is a work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He persuades and enables us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel.

II. Biblical evidence:

The Greek word for "to call" is kaleo.

Christians are those who have been called out by God:

NKJ Acts 2:39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

NKJ Romans 1:6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

NKJ 1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

NKJ 1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

NKJ Ephesians 1:18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

NKJ Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;

NKJ Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

NKJ 1 Thessalonians 2:12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

NKJ 1 Thessalonians 4:7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.

NKJ 2 Thessalonians 2:14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

NKJ 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

NKJ 1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

The primary emphasis on "calling" here is a calling to believe in Jesus and, thus, to become a saint. Beyond this it is a calling to belong to a body (the word church, ekklesia, comes from the word for calling) and to live a life of godliness and purity.

Grudem: "This calling is rather a kind of ‘summons’ from the King of the universe and it has in such power that it brings about the response that it asks for in people’s hearts" (Systematic Theology, p. 693). Grudem prefers the term "effective calling." It is "an act of God that guarantees a response" (p. 692).

He offers this definition: "Effective calling is an act of God the Father, speaking through human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith" (p. 693).

He adds, "Although it is true that effective calling awakens and brings forth a response from us, we must always insist that this response still has to be a voluntary, willing response in which the individual puts his or her trust in Christ" (p. 693).

The 1689 London concurs noting that effectual calling bids men come to Christ, "yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace."

III. The distinction between the effectual calling and the general calling.

There are those who hear the general call to believe in Jesus but in such a way that it is not effective for salvation. This is also called the gospel calling and the external calling.

This is what Jesus referred to when he said: "For many are called but few chosen" (Matt 20:16; 22:14).

See also the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.

IV. Implications:

1. God will provide for those who will believe an external call that he will make an internal or effectual call that shall lead to their salvation.

2. We do not know who will respond to the internal call, so we should promiscuously extend the free offer of the gospel to all.

3. Men will not come to Christ unless they hear this calling (see Romans 10:14). This should make us diligent always in preaching the gospel and in praying for the salvation of the lost.

V. Mysteries:

1. What about those who never hear the gospel call? The Scripture appears to state that they will not be saved. Such are "without excuse" (Romans 1:20).

2. What about infants who die? 1689 London: "Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how he pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word (citing John 3:3, 5, 6, 8)." In the end we must trust that the God of all the earth will do right.

VI. Closing challenge:

We must be always ready to present the gospel.

Grudem: "Memorizing the elements of the gospel call and the verses that explain it should be one of the first disciplines of anyone’s Christian life" (p. 696). Commit to memory verses on "the Roman’s Road": Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9.

After sharing gospel facts, we should extend an invitation to turn from sin and believe in Jesus.

See Jesus’ call in Matthew 11:28-30:

NKJ Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

We cannot save anyone! But we can extend the external call that God, by his grace, makes the internal and effectual call. God is the great Evangelist. He is the one who saves.

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