Monday, December 21, 2015

Westminster Confession, Chapter 10: Effectual Calling

Romans 8:30 "And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified."

    The doctrines of grace are precious indeed. Those whom Almighty God has predestined, he also called. The whole of this chapter of the confession is full of truth and answers to many contemporary issues on the subject of Calvinism vs Arminianism. For instance: Children, infants, and the mentally challenged. The elect only will be saved. Not all infants, children, or mentally handicapped will be lost. The raging question is, will they all be saved? Are they elect if they die young or lack the cognitive ability to understand the truths of the gospel? Our answer ought to be: we don't want to go beyond Scripture to the right or to the left. So, what is a reasonable answer? 1 Corinthians 7 helps with such a challenging issue. Paul refers to the children of the covenant as "set apart" or "holy." What makes them children of the covenant is if they have one or two believing parents, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified because of the wife, and the unbelieving wife because of her husband. Otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy." (1 Cor 7:14) Furthermore, Jesus' words are ever present in parents hearts and minds: "Suffer not the children to come unto me for of such are the kingdom of heaven." Here it seems safe to assume that covenant children are of the elect, so long as they prove their calling and election in their life. In other words, believing parents have some kind of sure foundation to hope. "The promise is to you and your children..." (Acts 2:29) However, we don't know of those children who belong to unbelieving parents, whether they are elect or not.
    Another contemporary issue: Universalism. This is a concept or idea that in the end, all will be saved. Humans don't face judgement but grace. Christ died for all it is suggested. Therefore all are saved. For a universalist, there is no hell. The problem a universalist faces however, is that the Bible teaches contrary to their views. According to the teaching of Scripture, there is an effectual call. No one will be saved apart from Christ and His effectual calling. To suggest something contrary to this is prideful presumption. There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) The effectual call of God is entirely of His doing and His choosing. It is in other words, His work. It is gracious and merciful, God does not look ahead and see who will choose Him and thereby base His election on the will of men. He chooses based on those who He has made His own. Romans 9 is very clear regarding this point. Predestination is based entirely on God's grace alone. Consider these texts:

  • 2 Tim 1:9-10: "He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made visible through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus."
  • Titus 3:4-7: "But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.” 
  • Eph 2:8-9: "For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast."
    When God effectually calls His elect He replaces their heart of stone with a heart of flesh. Repentance and regeneration  is implied when referring to effectual calling. The call of God unites us to Christ and saves us. The effectual call of God, being His work, gives all the glory back to Him for the salvation of the elect.
    The effectual call of God should never be confused with the outward call wherein all are called to repentance. The effectual call is that inward call of God by His Holy Spirit on the hearts of the elect only.

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