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Doctrine of Salvation: The Effectual Call

December 11, 2021 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: John 17:1–9

Scripture: John 17:1-9


Last week, we started our discussion on the Doctrine of Salvation

  • Specifically, by looking at the External Call of the Gospel
    • Also known as the Outward Call or the General Call

We learned that this General, External Call is to go out

  • To all men everywhere
  • To all men in every nation, every kindred, every tribe of every people

We learned that the call of the gospel will have one of two effects:

  • It will result in an effectual call resulting in the salvation of the hearer


  • It will not result in the salvation of the hearer

Review of the Outcomes of the Outward Call

Why are there two different outcomes?

  • The outward call does not save.
  • The person hearing it cannot and will not respond in true faith

Yet, this general and universal call must be preached without distinction

  • But the call that does result in the salvation of the hearer
    • John 12:38-40, Matthew 7:21, 22:14, Romans 11:7
    • Ties into the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 55:1-3, John 7:37,38)

Who are those who will thirst?

  • Those whom God hath elected and hath enabled to hear -> Mark 4:9-12

Remember the Spirit of Promise? -> John 7:39

  • The Spirit of promise will renew and regenerate -> Titus 3:3-7

Revelation 22:17

  • The external call invites everyone that thirsts to come.
  • They who hear will come
  • They who thirst will come
  • “Whosoever will” are those who hear and thirst

The external call alone cannot save. The external call can be resisted.

The internal call, the effectual call, cannot be resisted.

The Effectual (Internal) Call of The Gospel

The internal call is effectual unto salvation

  • God the Father is drawing men unto His Son Jesus Christ (John 6:44)
  • The Holy Spirit is internally calling the elect
  • The Holy Spirit quickens. (John 6:63)
  • The Holy Spirit gives life to the elect
    • they respond to the outward, external call
    • they respond through the regenerating work of the Spirit of God.

The internal call cannot be resisted

  • Redemption is through Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11)
  • Sanctification is through the application of Christ's work by the Spirit

The elect will respond to the call, nay, they do not want to resist

The elect will come to Christ at the appointed time

This is the internal call

  • A call that comes verbally (same as the external, the general call)
  • A call for “whosoever will” to come to Christ
    • A call for the elect to receive the power of Christ unto salvation
    • A call of the voice of the shepherd to those appointed by Him to proclaim his word to his sheep.
      • When His sheep hear His voice, they will follow the shepherd
      • When His sheep hear His voice, they will flee to the shepherd

What is the deciding factor between the internal call vs. the outward only call?

  • It is according to the purpose of God
    • Romans 8:28-29 / 2 Timothy 1:9

What are the effects of the internal call?

  • It calls the Christian to holiness and obedience
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:12, 4:7 / Ephesians 4:1
  • It separates the Christian from the fellowship of this present world
    • It calls the Christian to out of darkness and into His kingdom
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:14 / 1 Peter 2:9

Can it ever become ineffectual? -> No, it is irrevocable

  • Romans 11:29 / 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

For help, remember what the Larger Catechism, Q. 67 teaches…

  1. What is effectual calling?
  2. Effectual calling is the work of God’s almighty power and grace, whereby
  • (out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto) –> 2 Timothy 1:9, Ephesians 2:7-9
  • He doth, in his accepted time -> 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14
    • invite and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his word and Spirit,
    • savingly enlightening their minds, -> Acts 26:18
    • renewing and powerfully determining their wills, -> Ezek. 11:19, John 6:45
      • so as they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able freely to answer his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein. -> Philippians 2:13, Dt. 30:6


The sovereignty and efficacy of the call, however, do not relax the responsibility of man to respond. Man must respond – and will respond to the effectual call.

But man does not initiate/ control – man does not “require”, ‘invite”, or “allow”

We must not confuse what is known as the “common operations of the Spirit”

  • This is akin to Matthew 7:21,22 which we read earlier
    • A person might be outwardly called and respond in like manner
  • Sometimes, they might enjoy the “common operations of the Spirit”
    • But because of their willful neglect of the grace of God
    • But because of their remaining unbelief, they never truly come to true faith in Christ -> John 6:64-65, Hebrews 6:4-6
  • They might have some pangs of guilt and attend church “religiously”
  • They might, for a time, have a fervent desire for the things of God
  • But they are not united to Christ in faith, they will eventually fall away

Objections – Your Gospel Violates Mankind’s Will

Some are forced, or coerced to some to the cross

  • No-one is forced of God to the cross by some means of coercion
  • No-one who comes to God is ever told "No, you must go away from the cross"

Objections – Your Gospel Refuses Some Who Come

Some are refused when they come to the cross

  • All and any who come to the foot of Christ seeking salvation are accepted
  • No one comes who is not called of God internally.

Reformed theology seeks to charge that God does not give salvation to those who come to his cross.

But that is not true, all who come and call upon Christ are saved (John 6:37)

  • If it is in Christ in whom that men come
  • If they have been called by his sovereign power
  • If they have been renewed by the Spirit of promise
  • If they have been renewed by true faith

Those with false faith and with a false profession…

  • They may outwardly express what looks like real faith
  • They do not have true saving faith.
  • They do not come for salvation.
  • They seek something akin to life insurance
    • They seek eternal life.
    • They do not seek true service to Christ out of loving obedience
  • Mark 10:17-22
    • The rich young ruler wants assurance of redemption
    • But he wants it according to his conditions
    • He does not want to submit to the obedience of a sovereign God.

There are people who would a profession of faith, but it is a false profession

  • Their response is not to the true calling of the Spirit of God
  • Their response is simply a response to the external, to the outward call

Objections – Your Gospel is an Insult to Mankind

"This doctrine is really an insult to mankind and is not a genuine offer by God."

  • It is like a jailor, coming to a prisoner and saying to that prisoner who is under lock and key, how much he’d like the prisoner to go free. All that the prisoner must do is unlock and free himself – something that cannot be done by the prisoner himself.

But this is not the real offer of the gospel. This is a corrupted version offered today where people are told …

  • That they can free themselves from sin.
  • That they can work the grace required to convert their souls
  • That they can produce good fruit from a bad tree (Matt 12:33)
  • That they can remove their own blindness and be able to see
  • That they can remove their own deafness and be able to hear

Objection – The Offer of the Gospel is “Well-Meant”

The gospel is free to everyone

  • All you have to do is ….
  • All you have to say is ….
  • And then God will be able to bless you, to save you…

The True Offer of the Gospel

… then, it isn’t really free, is it? It does cost you something.

 The True offer of the Gospel is, indeed, free.

  • The Gospel is this -> “Come to Christ. He has made a way.”
  • Christ will provide the forgiveness.
  • God will provide the faith.
  • The Spirit will provide the new heart.

“All that the Father giveth me shall cometh to me.” – John 6:37

“… the gospel call is designed to put men upon a diligent attendance on the ordinances, as means of grace, and to leave the issue and success to God who ‘waits that he may be gracious,’—that so his sovereignty may appear more eminently in the dispensing of this privilege…

… we understand nothing else but a declaration that all who repent and believe shall be saved; which contains a character or description of the persons who have ground to expect this privilege…

All that we mean is, that those graces which are inseparably connected with salvation, are to be waited for in our attendance on all God’s ordinances; that, when he is pleased to work them, we may conclude that we have a right to the promise of salvation” – Thomas Ridgley

Conclusion & Uses

Therefore, when the gospel call is issued, it is issued freely.

It is freely offered to sinners…to sinners.

  • But how will a sinner know he is a sinner without the Spirit working?
  • But how will a rebellious, enemy of God look towards Christ without the Spirit working?

The gospel is this ->

  • Isaiah 45:22
  • Isaiah 55:11
  • Matthew 11:28
  • John 7:37

Therefore, you seek Christ. You give attention to the means of grace. You give attention to obedience. You give attention to Christ. You wait upon Christ.

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