Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Effectual Call

In Calvinism, effectual call is the doctrine also known as “irresistible grace.”  The logic goes like this: if God has elected from among fallen humanity those whom Christ would die and if Christ did in fact secure their justification through His atoning death on the cross then it follows that those whom God chose and those for whom Christ died will be saved.  God sovereignly draws His elect from among the masses of fallen humanity by His grace, His gospel, and His Spirit (means of grace) and the elect respond to both the outward call (the gospel preached) and the inward call (given by God’s grace).  This calling is effectual in that it never fails.  Those whom God has chosen before time will be saved.  The cross is also not a failure since Christ died to secure the salvation of the elect of God.

The Arminian reply, in short, would be that God does draw sinners to Himself by His means of grace (the gospel preached) and sinners must have their eyes opened by the work of the Spirit for them to be saved since it is impossible for sinful humans to save themselves.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and He opens our eyes to our lost condition (John 16:8-11).  However, the Spirit does not make one believe.  Even Calvinists acknowledge this.  The belief, while given to us by grace, is not something God does for us.  We must believe on our own and God holds us responsible if we reject His Son (John 3:18).  When a sinner does repent, it is a work of the Spirit (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25).  In fact, all of salvation is a work of God (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  When in glory, we will praise our Lord Jesus for His great work of salvation and not our working to earn our own salvation (Revelation 5:9-10).

So what is the key difference here?  If both Arminians and Calvinists acknowledge that God saves sinners and that salvation is the work of the Spirit, what is the major issue here?  The key question is whether the effectual call can be resisted by the sinner.  Calvinists say no.  Arminians say yes.  And therein is the key difference.

On a final note.  I was reading a Calvinist theologian today and he remarked that one has to prove their effectual calling to be sure of their salvation.  Of course he pointed to passages that I would point to as well such as 2 Peter 1:10-11.  He pointed out that where there is no perseverance, one can rest assured there is no true calling unto salvation.  While I would disagree slightly (as he would reject personal apostasy from the faith), I would add that no Arminian has an issue with this in regard to necessary perseverance in the faith.  Those who abide in Christ through faith (Romans 5:1) are saved.  We rest in our salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus is our salvation and we must rest in His grace alone (Hebrews 12:1-2).  When one perseveres in the faith they do in fact prove they belong to Christ and are saved in Him (Acts 14:22; Romans 11:20-22; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 12:21-13:5; Ephesians 3:17; Philippians 2:12-15; Colossians 1:21-23; etc.).

I pray that I was fair to my Calvinist brethren in this short post.

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