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Effectual Calling

Francis Turretin (1623-1687) - The Most Precise Theologian of the Reformation Era

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“Every decree of God is eternal; therefore it cannot depend upon a condition which takes place only in time. (2) God’s decrees depend on his good pleasure (eudokia) (Mt. 11:26; Eph. 1:5; Rom. 9:11). Therefore they are not suspended upon any condition outside of God. (3) Every decree of God is immutable (Is. 46:10; Rom. 9:11).”

The Scholastic Reformer explains how men are called into the Kingdom by the Holy Spirit.

This calling is an act of the grace of God in Christ by which he calls men dead in sin and lost in Adam through the preaching of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit, to union with Christ and to the salvation obtained in him. In it, the two terms “from which’ (a quo) and “to which (ad quem) are to be considered. The term ‘from which’ (terminus a quo) is the state of sin and condemnation in which we lie (Eph. 2:1); darkness (Eph. 5:8; 1 Pet. 2:9); the world (Jn. 15:19); and the things which are behind (to wit, earthly and mundane, Phil. 3:13). The term “to which’ (terminus ad quem) is union with Christ (1 Cor. 1:9); holiness (Rom 1-7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Thess. 4-7); marvelous light (I Pet. 2:9); the kingdom of God (1 Thess. 2:12); eternal glory in Christ (1 Pet. 5:10); eternal life (I Tim. 6:12). Hence it is at one time called a “holy calling” (2 Tim. 1:9), not only by reason of the principle (because God the author of calling is holy, 1 Pet. 1:15), but also by reason of the end (because it tends to holiness).

What of the reprobate?

Are the reprobate, who partake of external calling, called with the design and intention on God’s part that they should become partakers of salvation? And, this being denied, does it follow that God does not deal seriously with them, but hypocritically and rarely; or that he can be accused of any injustice? We deny.

This question lies between us and the Lutherans, the Arminians and the patrons of universal grace, who (to support the universality of calling, at least as to the preaching of the gospel in the visible church) hold that as many as are called by the word are called by God with the intention of their salvation. For otherwise God would trifle with men and not deal seriously but hypocritically with them, offering them grace which, nevertheless, he is unwilling to bestow.

Now although we do not deny that the reprobate (who live in external communion with the church) are called by God through the gospel; still we do deny that they are called with the intention that they should be made actual partakers of salvation (which God knew would never be the case because in his decree he had ordained otherwise concerning them). Nor ought we on this account to think that God can be charged with hypocrisy or dissimulation, but that he always acts most seriously and sincerely.

To make this more distinct, we must remark: (1) the external call is extended to the reprobate as well as to the elect; but in a different manner-to the elect primarily and directly. For their sake alone the ministry of the gospel was instituted to collect the church and increase the mystical body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). They being taken out of the world, preaching would no longer be necessary because the word of God cannot return unto him void (Is. 55:11). But to the reprobate, it is extended secondarily and indirectly because, since they are mingled with the elect (known only to God, 2 Tim. 2:19), the call cannot be addressed to men indiscriminately without the reprobate as well as the elect sharing in it (in order that the end ordained by God may be obtained); as a fisherman in casting his net intends only to catch good fish, but indirectly closes in his net the bad also mixed with the good.

(2) The end of calling can be considered in two ways: either on the part of God or on the part of the thing (which is called the end of the worker and the end of the work). Although each is conjoined in the elect, yet in others they are separated (as in the legal proclamation, the end of the thing is life by the law, but the end of God after man’s fall cannot be the happiness of man, which through sin has become impossible to him by the law; rather the conviction of mans weakness and leading of him to Christ is the end of the law; so in the gospel call, the end of the thing is the salvation of man because by its nature it tends to the bringing of him to salvation by faith and repentance; but not at once with respect to all the called is it the end of God, but only of those to whom he decreed to give faith and salvation).

Further, that end on the part of God is either common to all the called or special with respect to the elect or the reprobate. And as to the common, we ought not to doubt that it is the demonstration of the mode and way of salvation.

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