Westminster Confession 10:1-2

westminster2Why do some people who you might expect to respond to Christ with true repentance and faith never do so while other who you don’t expect to respond to Christ at all suddenly do so?

At the end of the day the cause can not be in the person.  We have already seen that our wills are held in bondage and captivity to sin by nature as a result of the fall.  The cause must therefore be with God and with his grace expressed powerfully in calling us to himself.

We call this activity of God effectual calling because it is effective in drawing sinners to him in Christ every time it is given.  It is distinct from the general or outward call of God in the gospel which may and should go out to all calling them to repent and turn to Christ for salvation.

A very clear passage on this is John 6:35-44.  Jesus is proclaiming himself as the Savior through whom spiritual life comes.  He proclaims that “whoever comes”, and “whoever believes” will receive the salvation and blessing of God through him.  The offer of Salvation goes out to all, no one is to be excluded.  But some are responding in unbelief and refusing to come and he says two very important things in response.

-First in vs. 37 he says in response to this unbelief that all the Father have given him will come to him, in other words they will repent and believe.  All those given to him by the Father are those the Father chose to be saved through him before the foundations of the world, those the Father predestined for salvation (Eph. 1).

-Secondly he says in vs. 44 in response to this unbelief that no one can come to him unless the Father who sent him draws them.  Our Lord affirms the inability of man and the absolute necessity of the Father’s enabling action.

In these verses then we have the offer of the gospel to all together with an affirmation that the gospel will come to those predestined for Salvation through Christ and those only with an effectual power that brings them surely and savingly to Christ in faith.

Much of this we see in chapter 10.1 of the Westminster confession.  However it adds several other things:
-It takes place in God’s appointed time.  In  other words someone might be elect and receive the outward call of the gospel many times before receiving it together with an effectual call.
-It takes place ordinarily by his Word and Spirit.  Think of Romans 10 in which Paul speaks of faith coming by hearing of the Word of God.  But that Word must be accompanied by the Spirit working through and with it as well as working in the heart and mind of the sinner enabling them to believe.  In no way do those who believe in the Sovereignty of God in salvation deny the need for the word to go out through evangelism and missions.
-It reminds us that at the point of our effectual calling we are translated out of the state of sin and death we are in by nature to a state of grace and salvation.  This is important to understand because those who are elect are by nature objects of wrath under sin just like others (Eph. 2:3).  However unlike others they are not ordained to stay that way (Acts 18:10) but to be brought through the calling of God into a state of grace and salvation in Christ.  No one may claim to be elect who is not converted, in fact we know our election by true calling, conversion and its fruits (2 Peter 1:3ff)
like others God may choose to love believers in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1) but Paul can say that by nature, before their effectual calling in Christ, they are like the rest “objects of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).
At this point the Confession turns to describe what happens in the sinner by God’s action in the effectual call.  What does he do?
-He enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God.  You will remember that Paul says in many places that the natural man (man without the Spirit) cannot understand the things of God and the gospel, they are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 1).  God changes this situation in effectual calling by his Spirit.
-He takes away their heart of stone and gives them a heart of flesh.  A heart of stone is spiritually lifeless and hard.  It is dead and hard just like a stone.  It is a heart that is defiant towards God and unwilling to hear from him or respond to him in repentance, faith, and obedience.  But God takes away this heart when he calls a man and gives a heart of flesh.  This is a heart that is alive to God and responsive to him that he might repent, believe, and walk with God.
-God renews their wills by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good.  Together with renewing the mind, and the heart, God renews the will.  He enables a man want to respond to him by turning from sin, trusting in Christ, and walking in his commands.
-So in effectual calling God renews mind, heart, and will such that they don’t come to him begrudgingly, but freely.  It is a summons that comes with healing.  It is like when the the lame man is told to get up and walk and he stands on sturdy ankles, and leaps on strong legs.  The call comes GRACIOUSLY with the powerful healing of mind, heart, and soul necessary to make us freely and joyfully respond.
Section 2 simply affirms that the reason that some receive this effectual call and not others is the free grace of God alone and NOT anything found in the sinner.  Arminians believe that all men are sinners but at the end of they day they are forced to say that the reason some men respond and not others is in the man.  He might be smarter, have a more noble heart, or stronger will but the reason he comes and others don’t is found in some superiority in him over another.  This is why the cardinal doctrines of God’s work in salvation taught by Reformed theology are sometimes called the doctrines of grace.  We believe that the reason some are saved and not others is wholly because of the grace of God freely and effectually given (Romans 9:15).
Westminster Confession Ch. 10.1-2I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call,[1] by His Word and Spirit,[2] out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ;[3] enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,[4] taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh;[5] renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good,[6] and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ:[7] yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.[8]

II. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man,[9] who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,[10] he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.[11]

[1] ROM 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate,  them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and  whom he justified, them he also glorified. 11:7 What then? Israel hath  not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained  it, and the rest were blinded. EPH 1:10 That in the dispensation of the  fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ,  both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In  whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his  own will.[2] 2TH 2:13 But we are bound to  give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because  God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through  sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he  called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord  Jesus Christ. 2CO 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the  epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the  Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables  of the heart. 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new  testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

[3] ROM 8:2 For the law of the  Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. EPH 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses  and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of  this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit  that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we  all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh,  fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature  the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy,  for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in  sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).  2TI 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not  according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace,  which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath  abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through  the gospel.

[4] ACT 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan  unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance  among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 1CO 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all  things, yea, the deep things of God. 12 Now we have received, not the  spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know  the things that are freely given to us of God. EPH 1:17 That the God of  our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your  understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of  his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the  saints.

[5] EZE 36:26 A new heart also  will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

[6] EZE 11:19 And I will give  them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take  the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of  flesh. PHI 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to  do of his good pleasure. DEU 30:6 And the Lord thy God will circumcise  thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with  all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. EZE 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my  statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

[7] EPH 1:19 And what is the  exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. JOH 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of  God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the  Father, cometh unto me.

[8] SON 1:4 Draw me, we will run  after thee. PSA 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy  power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou  hast the dew of thy youth. JOH 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall  come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. ROM  6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of  obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the  servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became  the servants of righteousness.

[9] 2TI 1:9 Who hath saved us,  and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but  according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ  Jesus before the world began. TIT 3:4 But after that the kindness and  love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of  righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved  us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. EPH  2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with  Christ, (by grace ye are saved). 8 For by grace are ye saved through  faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of  works, lest any man should boast. ROM 9:11 For the children being not  yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God  according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that  calleth.

[10] 1CO 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually  discerned. ROM 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. EPH 2:5 Even  when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by  grace ye are saved).

[11] JOH 6:37 All that the  Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in  no wise cast out. EZE 36:37 Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will  increase them with men like a flock. JOH 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.