Effectual Calling

The term used by the Westminster Confession and catechisms to cover the subject of regeneration. According to the Shorter Catechism, “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” (Q. 31).

Effectual calling denotes the internal, special, life-giving call of the Spirit, experienced only by God’s elect, in contrast to the external, general call extended to all who hear the gospel. This effectual call is the “exercise of divine power upon the soul, immediate, spiritual, and supernatural, communicating a new spiritual life and thus making a new mode of spiritual activity possible” (A. A. Hodge).

The effect of this call is to persuade and enable us to receive Christ as He is freely offered in the gospel. That is, it leads us to repentance and faith. This order is important. Repentance and faith are acts of the regenerate man, whose ability to perform them is solely by virtue of the change wrought by the Holy Spirit in effectual calling.

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