The Trinitarian Nature of Effectual Calling
How does the Trinity work in our Salvation? Actually, all Three Persons of the Trinity are involved in our being saved.
The Work of Three
How does the Trinity work in our Salvation? Actually, all Three Persons of the Trinity are involved in our being saved. The doctrine of effectual calling is a clear expression how the Three Persons of the Trinity work in harmony to bring about the redemption of ill-deserving sinners, like us. The Father elects people for salvation, the Son redeems them through His death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit calls them to faith.
Election, Redemption & Calling
The Father elects people for salvation, choosing them for salvation from before the foundation of the world. This is the doctrine of election, which teaches that God has chosen certain individuals for salvation, not based on anything they have done or will do, but simply because of His grace and mercy. Jesus was clear that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44).
The Son redeems a people for Himself through His death and resurrection. He takes the punishment that we deserve for our sin and offers us forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. This redemption is only possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Finally, because of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit calls people to faith in Him. This is what is referred to as effectual calling. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin (John 16:8), reveals the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:16), regenerates them (Eph 2:1-5), and enables them to respond to the gospel message and put their faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 8:14).
The Necessity of Regeneration
Why is effectual calling and regeneration necessary? Isn’t the outward call of the gospel enough (Rom 10:14-15)?
Both effectual calling and regeneration are necessary because all people are affected by sin and are unwilling to choose God or turn to Him of their own accord. First Corinthians 2:14 states: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
What this means is that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, people are unwilling and unable to understand or receive the things of God because the truths of the Bible are either foolishness or a stumbling block to them (Rom 8:6-7). They are unwilling to choose Him or respond to His summons to salvation because, being of the flesh, they are under the influence of sin, being held captive captivity and are resistant or hostile to spiritual truths (Rom 8:7).
In light of the unwillingness and inability to choose the things of God, we are helpless and hopeless. The total depravity of man means that all people are affected by sin and are unable to choose God or turn to Him of their own accord. They are not morally capable of responding to the gospel message and receiving salvation without the work of the Holy Spirit (Jer 17:9). This is why an effectual calling, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, is necessary for salvation. The Holy Spirit enables the individual to understand and respond to the things of God, leading them to faith in Jesus Christ. It is by grace alone in an act of God alone (Eph 2:8-9).
In summary, the Trinity works in harmony to bring about redemption. The Father elects people for salvation, the Son redeems them through His death and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-5), and the Holy Spirit calls them to faith. Each person of the Trinity plays a unique and important role in the process of salvation, and all three work together to bring sinners to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The Outward and Inward Call
First Corinthians 1:23-24 is a passage that displays both the outward and inward call of the Holy Spirit. It says, “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” In this passage, the Apostle Paul is referring to the outward call of the gospel, which is proclaimed to all people, both Jews and Greeks. The message of Christ crucified is a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others, but to those who are called, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God (Rom 1:16). This outward call is the general invitation of the gospel, which is extended to all people without distinction.
The Outward Call
First Corinthians 1:23-24 also implies the inward call of the Holy Spirit. The term “called” in this passage refers to those who have responded to the outward call and have been saved by the grace of God. The inward call of the Holy Spirit is not based on anything the person has done or will do, but solely on the sovereign grace of God. It is an irresistible work of the Holy Spirit, who convicts the individual of their sin, reveals the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and enables them to respond to the gospel message and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
In summary, 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 displays both the outward and inward call of the Holy Spirit. The outward call is the general invitation of the gospel to all people, while the inward call is the specific, personal summons to salvation that is the infallible result of God’s sovereign grace, thus, all Three Persons of the Trinity are involved in our salvation, just as all Three were involved in bringing everything into being (Gen 1:1-2).
Here is some related reading for you: The Trinity – A Bible Study
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Author’s Bio: George Haithcock is a pastor and author who creates Bible studies to focus on the preaching of the Word of God as the church’s main purpose. You can visit his facebook page here. Contact Pastor George Haithcock at: [email protected] for more information on Bible studies.