19 October 2003
2 Timothy 1:8, Ephesians 1:18-20, Acts 2:37, Ezekiel 11:19, John 6:44 & Philippians 2:13
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the Gospel.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.31. What is effective calling?
A. Effective calling is the work of God’s Spirit, Who convinces us that we are sinful and miserable, Who enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and Who renews our wills. This is how He persuades and makes us able to receive Jesus Christ, Who is freely offered to us in the gospel.
1. In what two ways could “calling” be understood?
Calling has been recognized in Reformed Theology as both “external” and “internal” call. The first is the call of the word whereby all sinners are freely invited to Christ, that they may have life and salvation in Him. However, this call is insufficient in itself to enable them to come to Him. The second is the internal call of the Spirit that accompanies the proclamation of the word whereby the sinner is not only invited to Christ but is inwardly enabled to embrace Him as He is freely offered in the Gospel.
2. What is involved in the Spirit’s work in our hearts to convince us of our sin and misery?
The Spirit gives us a clear insight of the guilt of our sins and a recognition of the wrath of God and the miseries of hell. This wounds our conscience and causes us to ask, “What must I do to be saved?”
3. How does the Spirit accomplish this task?
The Spirit accomplishes this task by the law - “through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20)
4. How does the Spirit enlighten our minds?
The Spirit does this by pointing us to Christ for in Him, that is in the knowledge of His person, righteousness, power, etc., we are renewed in our wills and are enabled to turn to Christ as Saviour and Lord.
5. Are we able to renew our own wills?
No, our wills are renewed only when the Spirit puts new inclinations in them and causes us, (makes us willing), to embrace Jesus Christ by faith. (Ephesians 1:19,20)