Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week

external call
The general gospel invitation offered to all people that comes through the proclamation of the gospel.1 Sometimes called general call, universal call, or gospel call.

  • From scripture:
    [Jesus] said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,  and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  (Luke 24:47 ESV)
    I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:20-21 ESV)
  • From The Canons of Dordt, Head III-IV, Articles 8 and 9:

    Article 8: The Serious Call of the Gospel

    Nevertheless, all who are called through the gospel are called seriously. For seriously and most genuinely God makes known in his Word what is pleasing to him: that those who are called should come to him. Seriously he also promises rest for their souls and eternal life to all who come to him and believe.

    Article 9: Human Responsibility for Rejecting the Gospel

    The fact that many who are called through the ministry of the gospel do not come and are not brought to conversion must not be blamed on the gospel, nor on Christ, who is offered through the gospel, nor on God, who calls them through the gospel and even bestows various gifts on them, but on the people themselves who are called. Some in self-assurance do not even entertain the Word of life; others do entertain it but do not take it to heart, and for that reason, after the fleeting joy of a temporary faith, they relapse; others choke the seed of the Word with the thorns of life’s cares and with the pleasures of the world and bring forth no fruits. This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13).

  • From Living for God’s Glory by Joel Beeke:
    …[T]wo calls need to be distinguished: and outward or general call that everyone hears, which can be rejected (John 7:41b-42; 10:20; Heb. 12:25), and an inward call that God extends to the elect, which always results in conversion (Matt 22:9; Acts 2:39; Rom. 9:11; 1 Tim. 6:12).

    With the outward call, the gospel is preached and a call to salvation is extended to everyone who hears the message. God is serious about offering Christ to all hearers. …All men without distinction are invited to come and drink freely of the water of life in Christ Jesus (Isa. 55:1-7; John 4:14). Forgiveness and salvation are promised to all who repent and believe (2 Thess. 2:14; Rom. 10:15).  
  • From Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray:

    We may properly speak of a call which is not in itself effectual. The is often spoken of as the universal call of the gospel. The overtures of grace in the gospel addressed to all men without distinction are very real and we must maintain that doctrine with all it’s implications for God’s grace, on the one hand, and for man’s responsibility and privilege, on the other. It is not improper to refer to that universal overture as a universal call.

Learn more:

  1. Wayne Grudem: The Gospel Call and Effective Calling
  2. Dr. John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan: Effectual Calling and the Free Offer of the Gospel
  3. Colin Maxwell: A list of quotes on the free offer of the gospel.
  4. Wilhelmus a Brakel: The External and Internal Call
  5. John Bonar: The Universal Calls of the Gospel
  6. Wayne Grudem: The Gospel Call and Effective Calling (mp3)

Related terms:



Filed under Salvation.

1 From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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