I've decided it is time for us to talk some theology here in the Pastor's Pondering. Now if you think that is something new, you need to start paying attention or maybe I need to explain what studying theology is all about. In every issue we usually deal with some aspect of practical theology. That means we seek to take what the Bible says and apply it to our every day lives. Theology that is not put to use in our daily lives is vanity and we don't want any of that. So let's take a look as some very practical theology as we talk about salvation. Salvation is made up of a number of things that God does to fully and finally reconcile us to Himself through Jesus Christ. These things are sometimes called the “Ordo Salutis,” the “Order of Salvation.” John Frame says, “The purpose of the ordo [salutis] is to list the events in the life of every saved person that join him to Christ. Typically, the list of events looks like this: effectual calling, regeneration, faith, repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, glorification.” It is my intent to take us briefly through a discussion of each of these “events” in the coming Pastor's Ponderings.
Let's think for a moment about “effectual calling.” What is effectual calling? 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.
If you think that sounds like a question and answer from the Shorter Catechism you would be absolutely right. The catechism is of course a very helpful tool for us. However, in this instance the catechism conflates (brings two concepts together as one) the ideas of effectual calling and regeneration. Regeneration has to do with renewing of the will and we will address that next time. For the purpose of this discussion, effectual calling is the Spirit's work of convincing us of our sin and miserable condition and enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ. This is what I like to call the “bad news and the good news” of the Gospel.
Before we can make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ we must first know that we are in desperate need. The Spirit convinces us of that very thing. We need to know we are sinners before we can know that we need a Savior. Once we have a real sense of our own “sin and misery” then we will be ready to respond. So that is the bad news—you are a sinner bound for hell. When we get that into our minds we are apt to ask, “Is there no hope?” That is when the good news comes. We are sinners in need of a Savior and indeed there is a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Through effectual calling the Holy Spirit convinces us both of sin and the possibility of redemption through Jesus. Praise God for His grace to us through effectual calling.