The Effectual Call - as summarized in the 1689 CoF
The following are some brief commentary.
What is effectual calling?
This is what the old school Baptists summarized what the Scriptures teach. The chapter on Effectual Call has four paragraphs. They can be summarized as follows.
The effectual call of ALL ELECT stated, and defined.
a. The manner effectual call is applied to each elect;
b. The relationship between the effectual call and the gospel call.
- The effectually called are enabled to answer the gospel call.
- Those effectually called elect who are capable of being outwardly called by the gospel.
Those effectually called elect who are incapable of being outwardly called by the gospel.
Those who are not effectually called, since predestinated unto eternal life, but have the outward gospel call
Paragraph 1 - The effectual call stated, and defined.
Those whom God hath predestined unto life, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call,(1) by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ;(2) enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God;(3) taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh:(4) renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ;(5) yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.(6) 1. Ro 8:30; 11:7; Eph 1:10-11, 2Th 2:13-14. 2. Eph 2:1-6. 3. Ac 26:18; Eph 1:17-18. 4. Eze 36:26. 5. Dt 30:6; Eze 36:27; Eph 1:19. 6. Ps 110:3; SS 1:4.
a. Please note very carefully... the effectual call is the calling of an elect out of his NATIVE STATE of sin and death to that SPIRITUAL STATE of grace and salvation. This needs the almighty power of the Triune God, that is, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit
- This effectual call to a state of grace and salvation is, by the powerful and sovereign will of the Triune God (God, His Word and Spirit), without any assistance or cooperation of man, being dead in trespasses and sins.
- It is an act of the Triune God that is separate and distinct from and prior to the gospel call which is a calling out of the state of ignorance and unbelief to a state of knowledge of the truth of their salvation by God's free grace, through faith in Christ Jesus.
- The former is the calling of the dead in trespasses and sins to grace and salvation.
- The latter is the calling of God's children from ignorance to faith in Christ.
b. And what transpires in the effectual call is carefully stated...
- “Enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh: renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace."
- Two SPECIFIC THINGS are mentioned here:
- Firstly: what is done to them: Enlightening the MIND... Replacing the HEART... Renewing their WILLS... i.e., the WHOLE person is affected by the effectual call to the state of grace and salvation.
- Secondly: the good determined for them by the almighty power of God:
: By His almighty power, therefore ALWAYS effectual... always accomplishes its purpose.
c. That which is good is the ETERNAL SALVATION bound up in the person and works of Jesus Christ.
- Each is effectually UNITED, by the almighty power of God, to Christ, the fount and spring of their eternal redemption.
: The 'drawing' spoken of here is WITHOUT the gospel means. It is the effectual drawing of the elect still dead in trespasses and sins to Christ by the almighty power of God to the state of grace and salvation.
- In this sense the effectual drawing/calling is IRRESISTIBLE GRACE. Not even a man in enmity against God could possibly resist the free gracious act of the almighty God to raise him from his state of sin and death.
d. A common and popular error concerning effectual call needs to be stated here.
- The Calvinists, nearly all of them being gospel regenerationists (i.e preaching of the gospel is necessary for the Spirit’s work of regeneration), understand the effectual call as God's act of blessing their gospel preaching, making it effectual in bringing the dead to eternal life, and conversion to the truth of the gospel.
- Whether they like it or not, such idea explicitly implies that without their preaching ministry, there would be no effectual call, i.e. the eternal salvation of God's elect is intimately bound up with their activities! Thus they unashamedly conditioned the eternal salvation of God upon their preaching activity.
- They are not contented to accept that their preaching ministry is to feed and nourish the lambs and sheep of God. They insist that they have an indispensable role in bringing lambs and sheep into being! i.e actively involved in the work of making lambs and sheep!
e. There is one VITAL issue in paragraph 1. It is contained in the phrase, "by His Word and Spirit". These are God's Agents of effectual call, bringing those in the state of sin and death to that of grace and salvation.
- So many new school calvinists glibly take 'His Word' as referring to their ministry of the word or the written Scriptures. But that does violence to the whole paragraph, and chapter.
- The preached word (gospel proclaimed) blessed to the conversion of the already regenerated elect is vastly different from God’s Word (Christ) and Spirit who are the active Divine Agents in the effectual calling of the dead in trespasses and sins unto eternal life. The Word here is the eternal life-giving Logos, as in John 1:1-2.
f. We must not confuse the two. The word ‘word’ (whether with upper or lower case ‘w’) SOUNDS exactly the same in each case, but the CONTEXT and the SENSE are entirely different. ‘Sound-byte-itis is a disease!
- Distinction is the essence of sound theology. The Framers were clear. Therefore ‘His Word’ can’t possibly mean ‘gospel preaching’ in a context of effectual calling unto eternal life and salvation.
- The gospel is not an instrument used in begetting eternal life in the elect. It is instrumental only in the conversion of those whom God has effectually called unto eternal life. It is instrumental in the gospel call to faith in Jesus Christ. But it is massive theological blunder to think that Christ, the Word of God, is not active in the work of the new creation in effectual calling. The life-giving Logos is the way, the truth, and the life!
Q. What does “in His appointed and approved time” tell us? What is the implication?
Q. Is “by His almighty power determining them to that which is good” (original wording) the same as “by His almighty power, causes them to desire and pursue that which is good” (P Master’s revision)? Why? See here: Monergism degraded into Synergism http://things-new-and-old.blogspot.com/2011/05/monergism-degraded-into-synergism.html
Paragraph 2 - The manner effectual call is applied, and its relation to the gospel call.
This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all forseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature,(7) being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit;(8) he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.(9) 7. 2Ti 1:9; Eph 2:8. 8. 1Co 2:14; Eph 2:5; Jn 5:25. 9. Eph 1:19-20.
a. The manner this effectual call is applied is spelled out explicitly.
- This effectual call is further defined in its manner of application because of man's natural inclination to pervert and twist the gracious nature of it. It is attributed wholly, solely and completely to the free grace of God, and man’s role and gospel instrumentality are completely excluded. In effectual calling, man is entirely passive, being dead in trespasses and sins. In fact he is in active enmity and rebellion against God.
b. The effectual call is POSITIVELY affirmed:
- Attributed to God's free and special grace alone... THUS excluding even the gospel ministry of the gospel preachers, and every human aid or activities! "Alone' means 'alone,' it does not mean 'alone PLUS a little assistance from men.'
- An elect is being quickened, from the state of death, to eternal life. No one can do any good to the dead but the Life-giver Himself, and ALONE, without the deluded gospel regenerationists' aid or cooperation.
- The quickened is renewed... saving graces are worked in the effectually called. Without these saving graces worked in the heart by the indwelling Spirit of adoption, the quickened would still be quite impotent... made alive but still without strength or power.
c. The effectual call is NEGATIVELY denied:
- NOT from anything at all foreseen in man...
- NOT from any power or agency in the creature...
- Man being WHOLLY passive in the effectual call...
- Man being dead in sins and trespasses and sin...
What more needs to be said! Every possible loophole for man-assisted idea of effectual calling is excluded!
d. The relationship between effectual call and the gospel call is clearly stated.
- The effectual call to grace and salvation thereby enables a man to answer the gospel call. Many understand “he is thereby enabled to answer this call” as the effectual call enabling a man to answer to effectual call! That idea has already been completely repudiated in para 1, and the first part of para 2.
- A man in the state of sin and death is simply completely passive in his effectual call to grace and salvation. Effectual call needs no man's answer to make it effectual! It is the gospel call that needs man's answer/response to make it effectual for the purpose it was ordained, i.e. conversion to the truth of their salvation by the free and sovereign grace.
- It is in the gospel call that the Framers say "grace is offered and conveyed" - this is obviously different from the grace and salvation applied freely in the effectual call, in contrast to being 'offered' in the gospel call)!
- Let the misguided and foolish have fun trying to offer something very good to the dead!
e. NOTE the word 'thereby.' It is an adverb, and means "by that means; as a result of." By the means of effectual calling, or as a result of the effectual calling, a man is enabled to answer the gospel call.
- That means the effectual call is already completed apart from the gospel call... finished and accomplished... thereby enabling the effectually called to answer to the gospel call, which is distinct and separate from the effectual call! The effectual call is already COMPLETED by free grace when he is enabled to answer... therefore that which he is enabled to answer cannot possibly be the effectual call.
- But the Calvinists’ addiction to and obsession with gospel regeneration blind them to this simple truth. They firmly believe that effectual call is conditioned upon the gospel call; that is, no gospel call, no effectual call! This way, eternal salvation is conditioned upon their gospel ministry!
f. ‘The grace offered and conveyed in it’, that is, in the gospel… Grace leading to temporal salvation is indeed offered and conveyed in the gospel ministry. Believing the truth not only brings peace and joy and enlightenment, it saves a man from falsehood, deception, lies and superstitions… see Titus 2:12.
Paragraph 3 - The effectual call and the sentient elect who are incapable of being outwardly called by the gospel.
Infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit;(10) who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth;(11) so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word. 10. Jn 3:3,5-6. 11. Jn 3:8.
a. This paragraph deals with those effectually called who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word, either because of their personal inabilities (infants, etc) or outward circumstances. These are not left to perish in their sins. They are effectually called in exactly the same way described in para 1.
- This paragraph is a clear and plain repudiation of the popular error that effectual calling is conditioned upon the gospel calling… for such idea will damn many of those predestinated unto life just because they are not capable of being OUTWARDLY called by the ministry of the word.
- ‘The Spirit who worketh when and where and how He pleaseth’ declares the absolute sovereignty of the work of regeneration, unrelated to the ministry of the gospel. Otherwise, His sovereignty is conditioned by it!
- Note that the gospel ministry is for the sentient children of God… those who are able to hear and perceive. The phrase “so also all other elect persons’ refers to those that are sentient, but who do not have the gospel call in their life time on earth. Not all of God's sentient elect have the opportunity to have the gospel ministry. This is to repudiate the popular notion of the gospel regenerationists, ‘no gospel call, no effectual, therefore no eternal salvation.’
- Note the distinction between ‘His Word’ in para 1, and ‘the ministry of the word’ in para 3! The former is in the context of effectual call of the dead to life, the latter is the gospel call to the conversion of the effectually called to the truth.
b. The infants and all others spoken of in this paragraph ARE those God has predestined unto eternal life. So, it is redundant to say 'elect infant.' It is also presumptuous to claim "all infants dying in infancy are elect" for the paragraph claim no such thing.
Paragraph 4 - Those who are not effectually called, nor predestinated unto eternal life.
Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit,(12) yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved:(13) much less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess.(14) 12. Mt 22:14; 13:20-21; Heb 6:4-5. 13. Jn 6:44-45,65; 1Jn 2:24-25. 14. Ac 4:12; Jn 4:22; 17:3.
a “… much less can men that receive not the Christian religion…”
- ‘Receive not” implies that they have the ministry of the word but they reject the truth of the gospel.
- Those mentioned in para 3 do not have the ministry of the word… and cannot be charged as those that ‘receive not’. ‘Receive not’ implies conscious refusal and rejection.
The subsequent chapters show that Effectual Calling out of the native state of sin and death to that of grace and salvation involves justification (chapter 11), regeneration, and adoption together with the gift of the Spirit of adoption (chapter 12) - in that order and number.
All these three divine activites are absolutely necessary to bring an man in his native state of sin and death to that of grace and salvation: justification (applied personally) removes condemnation, regeneration removes death, and adoption removes alienation and bestowing all the rights and privileges that belong to the children of God.
The distinction between the Effectual call by the Triune God, and the gospel call through the preachers must be understood. Biblical distinction is the essence of sound theology.
i. Effectual call - from the STATE sin and death to that STATE of grace and salvation
- justification applied by God’s free grace,
- regeneration by the Spirit of God,
- adoption into God’s family, given the Spirit of adoption to dwell within, who works all the saving graces,
- thus enabled to answer the gospel call.
- distinct and prior to gospel call.
ii. Gospel call – ministry of the word, converting from state of ignorance and darkness to the knowledge and light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- hearing, understanding, believing
- justification by faith in Christ, experiential with respect to self; evidential with respect to others.