LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 104

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. 23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. This will be my personal reflections on this beloved written codification of the Christian Faith which is according to a Baptist flavor.




Section 10, paragraph 2: “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.”


“Effectual call” uses “call” as a specific facet of salvation. More specifically it’s the first action of God accomplished in an individual person’s actual salvation. Salvation is a big picture term that can be used generally to encompass every identifiable constituent part of the whole. Words like predestination, regeneration, glorification, calling or justification can each refer to separate things in our lives as believers. A person’s glorification, for example, is the physical resurrection that he or she will receive in Christ’s Second Advent. It is a specific event still to come in the future for everyone reading this. But it’s only a part of our “salvation” in the grand scheme. Effectual call then is God’s initial spiritual resurrection work in his elect when he grants them life in the Son. Not just information or an offer of life. Not mere possibility, but spiritual life in Christ itself. Life is literally what we’re “born again” into. Effectual calling is when God “quickens” or makes alive the Gospel message that’s gone into someone’s mind.

What the confession is also here affirming is that God is free to give this to someone. Judging only by our experiences, we may conclude that nothing in our hearts was done before we chose to do it, but that’s not right. God gave us life in Christ before we ever asked for it.

We must make a distinction between what many theologians have called the “internal call” and the “external call” to get this. “Effectual call” means an “internal call”. This is what’s in view in Romans 8:29-30. It’s when we’re born again. The external call is the message preached to repent and believe, by which, the internal call is then made operable. It goes out to all who hear. The internal call is when God makes that call come alive in someone’s heart by the gift of faith. It can only be heard by a spiritually alive set of ears. John 3:3.

If the synergist’s position were true then God would be asking men to save themselves with the Gospel. He wouldn’t be their Savior (at least in the strictest sense) at all. Such a foolish idea’s only saving grace is in its ignorance and love of other things it actually gets right. There’s a big difference between God saving a drowning man and God pulling a bloated corpse from the ocean and bringing it back to life. Dead people are passive when they’re brought to life the confession affirms. Ephesians 2:1-5. Christians were passive when they were called. Not even slightly active. They were dead. This is just too clearly portrayed in the word of God for any other traditions to force me to deny.

The call is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 16:31. Regeneration enables a person to do just that. Without it we couldn’t take the first step toward Jesus because we were entirely unwilling by our very natures. Our wills must be fixed (or amended) to willingly do what’s spiritually right in God’s opinion. No to just do good works, but to do things truly pleasing to God in faith. We must be born again first therefore in order to have faith/please him.

This effectual calling, since it’s the work of God himself, is the same power he used to bring Jesus back to life on the third day. “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11. It’s a miracle we’re alive!


Happy New Year!

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