Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion — God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written specifically 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.


« What are those aggravations that make some sins more heinous than others? | Main | I've Been Gone »

Theological Term of the Week

Moving on to subjective soteriology, or what we experience in the salvation process as the benefits of redemption are applied to us.

effectual call
A work of the Holy Spirit in which sinners are convicted of their sin and drawn to Christ in such a way that they are persuaded to embrace him in saving faith; “the 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.”1 Also called the internal call or the effective call.

  • From scripture:
    …those whom he called he also justified… (Romans 8:30 ESV)

    For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God….

    …we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23 ESV)

  • From The Westminster Shorter Catechism:

    Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
    A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

    Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
    A. Effectual calling is the 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 doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

    Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
    A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

  • From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem:

    This powerful act of God is often referred to as effective calling to distinguish it from the general gospel invitation that goes to all people and which some people reject. This is not to say that human gospel proclamation is not involved. In fact, God’s effective calling comes through the human preaching of the gospel, because Paul says, “To this he called you through our gospel so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). Of course, there are many who hear the general call of the gospel message and do not respond. But in some cases the gospel call is made so effective by the working of the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts that they do respond; we can say that they have received “effective calling.”3

    We may define effective calling as follows: Effective 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. It is important that we not give the impression that people will be saved by the power of this call apart from their own willing response to the gospel…. 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 person puts his or her trust in Christ. This is why prayer is so important to effective evangelism. Unless God works in peoples’ hearts to make the proclamation of the gospel effective, there will be no genuine saving response. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

Learn more:

  1. Paul Helm: Effectual Calling
  2. John Gill: Of Effectual Calling
  3. Thomas Watson, from A Divine Cordial: Effectual Calling (suggested by Kim of Hiraeth)
  4. William Payne: Effectual Call
  5. Greg Welty: Election and Calling: A Biblical/Theological Study (pdf)
  6. John MacArthur: The Doctrine of God’s Effectual Call (mp3)
  7. Wayne Grudem: The Gospel Call and Effective Calling (mp3)

Related terms:

Filed under Salvation.

1Westminster Shorter Catechism

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, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. Credit will be given for any of these suggestions I use, too.

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.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (2)

Here's another good Puritan link from Thomas Watson's Divine Cordial:

February 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim from Hiraeth

Perfect! I've added it.


February 25, 2009 | Registered Commenterrebecca

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>