Moving on to subjective soteriology, or what we experience in the salvation process as the benefits of redemption are applied to us.
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.”3We 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).
- Paul Helm: Effectual Calling
- John Gill: Of Effectual Calling
- Thomas Watson, from A Divine Cordial: Effectual Calling (suggested by Kim of Hiraeth)
- William Payne: Effectual Call
- Greg Welty: Election and Calling: A Biblical/Theological Study (pdf)
- John MacArthur: The Doctrine of God’s Effectual Call (mp3)
- Wayne Grudem: The Gospel Call and Effective Calling (mp3)
1Westminster Shorter Catechism
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