We’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in the 17th Century. Recently we’ve been answering questions about God’s church. We’ve seen that the ‘invisible’ church is made up of the elect – those who have been effectually called. But what is ‘effectual calling’? This is what we’re going to unpack in coming weeks.
Effectual calling is the work of God by which he draws people to Jesus Christ. He ‘calls’ us to himself and it is ‘effective’. So how does God effectually call people to his Son?
Firstly, God calls people by his grace. Paul says: ‘He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’ (2 Timothy 1:8-10). Notice what he says – God has called Christians because of his purpose and grace.
Secondly God calls people by his love. Paul says: ‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Ephesians 2:4-10). Because of his love, God calls people to himself.
Thirdly, we are called by God’s Spirit. Paul writes to the Thessalonian church: ‘But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).
Fourthly, it should be seen that the elect are called to Christ by God’s word. In that last quote from 2 Thessalonians, Paul says we are called through the gospel.
Fifthly, note that God calls people to himself by his power. In the passages from 2 Timothy and Ephesians, Paul is careful to emphasise that we are called not because of anything we have done. We can never boast that we were somehow involved in God calling us to himself. It is all by his grace, his love, his Spirit, his Word, his power. And thus, the Lord gets all the glory.
So have you been called by God? By his grace, his love, his Spirit, his Word and his power? If you truly trust in Christ, then you have been effectually called by God and will enjoy eternal life. Trust in him today. Don’t delay.