WHAT IS “EFFECTUAL CALL”?
This section includes passages from an exceedingly Biblical and reputable website gotquestions.org, the Believer’s Bible Commentary and Barnes Commentary. Each one is marked so that credit is given to the source.
The effectual call is understood as God’s sovereign drawing of a sinner to salvation. The effectual call to a sinner so overwhelms his natural inclination to rebel that he willingly places faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul refers to the effectual call when he writes, “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). The necessity of the effectual call is emphasized in Jesus’ words, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them” (John 6:44).
Paul further affirms that God must impress His will on the natural state of man when he writes that those who oppose God “must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25). The apostle Peter writes that God “called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). Peter’s use of the Greek word kaleo, which is translated “called,” expresses the action of God calling sinners. Whenever kaleo is used in the participial form, as it is in this passage, with God as the subject, it refers to the effectual call of God on sinners to salvation. Kaleo carries the idea that a sinner is being drawn to God rather than simply invited to come.
Jesus said, “For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). In this statement, Jesus distinguishes between the general call that everyone receives by hearing the gospel and the effectual call that leads to salvation. The effectual call is also taught in passages such as Romans 1:6, where Paul greets the believers as those “who are called to belong to Jesus Christ”; and Acts 16:14, where Luke says of Lydia that “the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” The effectual call, therefore, is God’s action toward the elect, those whom He chose in Christ “before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless. . . . He predestined [them] for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4–5).
The general call, on the other hand, is for all of humanity, not just the elect. The famous passage, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), portrays God’s general revelation to everyone in the world. The gospel is available to everyone, but, because of humanity’s sinful nature and total depravity, no one will turn to God without God first impressing Himself on them.
BELIEVERS BIBLE COMMENTARY
8:29 Now Paul traces the majestic sweep of the divine program designed to bring many sons to glory.
First of all, God foreknew us in eternity past. This was not a mere intellectual knowledge. As far as knowledge is concerned, He knew everyone who would ever be born. But His foreknowledge embraced only those whom He foreordained or predestined to be conformed. . .. to the image of His Son. So, it was knowledge with a purpose that could never be frustrated. It is not enough to say that God foreknew those whom He realized would one day repent and believe. Actually, it is His foreknowledge that insures eventual repentance and belief.
That ungodly sinners should one day be transformed
In that day of glory, He will be the firstborn among many brethren. Firstborn here means first in rank or honor. He will not be One among equals, but the One who has the supreme place of honor among His brothers and sisters.
8:30 Everyone who was predestined in eternity is also called in time. This means that he not only hears the gospel but that he responds to it as well. It is therefore an effectual call. All are called; that is the general (yet also valid) call of God. But only a few respond; that is the effectual (conversion-producing) call of God.
All who respond are also justified or given an absolutely righteous standing before God. They are clothed with the righteousness of God through the merits of Christ and are thereby fit for the presence of the Lord.
Those who are justified are also glorified. Actually, we are not glorified
This is one of the strongest passages in the NT on the eternal security of the believer. (Emphasis added) For every million people who are foreknown and predestined by God, every one of that million will be called, justified, and glorified. Not one will be missing! (
8:31 when we consider these untreatable links in the golden chain of redemption, the conclusion is inevitable! If God is for us, in the sense that He has marked us out for Himself, then no one can be successful against us. If Omnipotence is working on our behalf, no lesser power can defeat His program.
BARNES BIBLE COMMENTARY
Romans 8:28-30 New King James Version
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
For whom he did foreknow – The word used here προέγνω proegnō has been the subject of almost endless disputes regarding its meaning in this place. The literal meaning of the word cannot be a matter of dispute. It denotes properly to “know beforehand;” to be acquainted with future events. But whether it means here simply to know that certain persons would become Christians; or to ordain, and constitute them to be Christians, and to be saved of almost endless discussion. ..perhaps the following remarks may throw light on it.
(1) it does not here have reference to all the human family; for all are not, and have not, been conformed to the image of his Son. It has reference therefore only to those who would become Christians,
(2) it implies “certain knowledge.” It was certainly foreseen, in some way, that they would believe, and be saved.
(3) the event which was thus foreknown must have been, for some cause, certain and fixed.
(4) in what way such an event became certain is not determined by the use of this word. But it must have been somehow in connection with a divine appointment or arrangement, since in no other way can it be conceived to be certain. While the word used here, therefore, does not of necessity mean to decree, yet its use supposes that there was a purpose or plan; and the phrase is an explanation of what the apostle had just said, that it was “according to the purpose of God” that they were called.This passage simply teaches that he knew them; that his eye was fixed on them; that he regarded them as to be conformed to his Son; and that, thus knowing them, he designated them to eternal life. As, however, none would believe but by the influences of his Spirit, it follows that they were not foreknown on account of any faith which they would themselves exercise, or any good works which they would themselves perform, but according to the purpose or plan of God himself.
He also did predestinate – See the meaning of the original of this word explained in the notes at Romans 1:4; see also the Acts 4:28 note; and 1 Corinthians 2:7 note. In these places the word evidently means to determine, purpose, or decree beforehand; and it must have this meaning here. No other idea could be consistent with the proper meaning of the word
, or be intelligible. It is clear also that it does not refer to external privileges, but to real conversion and piety; since that to which they were predestinated was not the external privilege of the gospel, but conformity to his Son, and salvation; see Romans 8:30. No passage could possibly teach in stronger language that it was God’s purpose to save those who will be saved. Ephesians 1:5, “having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself.” Ephesians 1:11, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
(1) That God does not determine to save people, whatever their character may be. The decree is not to save them in their sins, or whether they be sinful or holy. But it has primary respect to their character. It is that they “should be” holy; and, as a consequence of this, that they should be saved.
(2) the only evidence which we can have that we are the subjects of his gracious purpose is, that we are “in fact” conformed to the Lord Jesus Christ.
That he might be the first-born – The first-born among the Hebrews had many special privileges. The idea here is,
(1) That Christ might be pre-eminent as the model and exemplar; that he might be clothed with special honors, and be so regarded in his church; and yet,
(2) That he might still sustain a fraternal relation to them; that he might be one in the same great family of God where all are sons; compare Hebrews 2:12-14.
Many brethren – Not a few. The purpose of God is that many of the human family shall be saved.