I just read a helpful section of Anthony Hoekema’s book, Saved by Grace. It’s the part where he discusses the biblical doctrine of effectual calling. I don’t really have to summarize it because Hoekema is concise and clear:
…A more complete definition of effectual calling, therefore, might be: that sovereign action of God through his Holy Spirit whereby he enables the hearer of the gospel call to respond to his summons with repentance, faith, and obedience.
The Goals of Effectual Calling:
The last word, obedience, suggests another aspect of effectual calling, namely, that it is directed toward certain goals. This is implied in the concept of calling: we are called to something, to some end or goal. The New Testament indicates in a number of ways to what goals God’s effectual calling summons us.
We are called into fellowship with Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:9). We are called to eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12), to God’s kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2:12), and to a holy life (1 Thess. 4:7; see 2 Tim. 1:9). We are called to follow Christ as an example of godly suffering (1 Pet. 2:21). We are called to Christian freedom (Gal. 5:13) and to peace (Col. 3:15). We are called to win the prize: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
The effectual call, therefore, summons us to a distinctive kind of life, a life that is different, that separates us morally and spiritually from this present evil world. To use the language of Ephesians 4:1, those who have been effectually called must live lives worthy of the calling to which they have been called.
But living such lives requires our own diligent involvement. Though the effectual call is a fruit of God’s sovereign grace, it brings into play our full responsibility. As John Murray puts it, “The sovereignty and efficacy of the call [that is, the effectual call] do not relax human responsibility but rather ground and confirm that responsibility. The magnitude of the grace enhances the obligation.”
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015