Confessing Our Faith In the Culture – Chapter 10

Of Effectual Calling

General/universal/Gospel/external call

There is an external call of the gospel, whereby all who hear it are called to the fellowship of Christ, and to receive a full salvation in him, without money and without price. – Isa. 55. 1. This call is not confined to the elect, nor restricted to those who are sensible of their sins, and feel their need of a savior, or who possess some good qualifications to distinguish them from others, but it is addressed to mankind sinners as such, without distinction, and without exception. All who come under the general denomination of men, whatever be their character and state, have this call directed to them: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.”—Prov. 8. 4. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth”—sinners of every nation, of every rank, and condition.—Isa. 14. 22. …That the call of the gospel is indefinite and universal, that God is sincere in addressing this call to all to whom the gospel comes, and that none who comply with the call shall be disappointed; these are unquestionable truths. But the outward call by the Word is of itself ineffectual. Though all without exception are thus called, yet multitudes refuse to hearken, and in this respect “many are called, but few are chosen;” that is, few are determined effectually to embrace the call. Robert Shaw, Exposition on the Westminster Confession of Faith

Effectual/internal call

But there is also an internal call, in which the Holy Spirit accompanies the external call with power and efficacy upon the soul; and this call is always effectual.

The Word is usually the outward means employed, and the Holy Spirit is always the efficient agent, in calling men into the kingdom of grace. If, in any instance, the call of the gospel proves successful, it is not owing to the piety or persuasive eloquence of those who dispense the gospel (1 Cor. iii. 7); neither is it on account of one making a better use than another of his own free will (Rom. ix. 16); it is solely to be ascribed to the power of the Divine Spirit accompanying the outward call of the Word. – 1 Thess. i. 5. By means of the law, the Spirit convinces them of their sinfulness, shows them the danger to which they are exposed, and discovers to them the utter insufficiency of their own works of righteousness as the ground of their hope and trust for acceptance before God. By means of the gospel, he enlightens their minds in the knowledge of Christ—discovers to them the glory of his person, the perfection of his righteousness, the suitableness of his offices, and the fullness of his grace; shows them his ability to save to the uttermost, his suitableness to their condition, and his willingness to receive all that come to him. He also takes away their heart of stone, and gives unto them an heart of flesh—renews their wills, and effectually determines and enables them to embrace Christ as their own Saviour. Ibid

Distinction between Biblical Christians and hyper-Calvinists

God has certainly revealed no purpose to save any except those who, hearing the gospel, obey; and he requires that his people, as custodians of the gospel, should be diligent in disseminating it as the appointed means of saving souls. A. A. Hodge, Confession of Faith


Those unable to rationally respond to revealed revelation

  1. by virtue of inherent lack of ability

    1. mentally handicapped/special needs

    2. multi-sensory physical handicap

  2. by virtue of age

    1. newly born

    2. pre-born


Resolution of the mystery

is not found:

  1. in emotional response

    1. e.g. David – 2 Samuel 12:23

      1. a hopeful heart

      2. the grave/death, not the afterlife/heaven

    2. how could God….???

  2. addressed directly in Scripture

  3. ascribing attitudes/behavior to God we wish He had

is found in (revealed truth):

  1. The individual’s true condition

    1. sinner by nature from “the beginning” Psalm 51:5

  2. God’s true character

    1. compassionate, gracious, …bringing consequences – Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 103:8-13

  3. True understanding of God’s purpose

    1. our good as children conformed to the likeness of his dear Son – Romans 8:28-30

    2. His glory – Isaiah 42:8, 48:11; Exodus 20:3-5, 34:14


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