Effectual Calling and Regeneration

Theologians often speak of regeneration, the work of the Holy Spirit to bring someone to the new birth. But the Westminster Standards speak of effectual calling as the work of the Spirit to give people new hearts, enlightening their minds and renewing their wills. Are effectual calling and regeneration the same thing? If not, how do they relate? In this episode, we discuss the relationship between these two aspects of the ordo salutis.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling

1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

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

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Steve Satterfield

1 year ago

Concerning regeneration and the OT saints, how was there experience the same and/or different than ours?


1 year ago

I wish you all would discuss Lutheranism more frequently. They teach, as Augustine did that God regenerates non elect, but only grants the elect the grace of perseverance. This allows the tensions of their sacramental system and doctrine of election to remain in tact. They claim the golden chain is only referring to the elect. I have issues with this as it seems only the elect are chosen, called and justified and glorified.

Timothy Joseph

1 year ago

This was a great conversation. Much wisdom and clarification on effectual calling and regeneration. A couple of points, certainly scripture speaks of the roles of the Godhead in calling, as mentioned, the Father calls in the Son by the Spirit, yet we are remiss if we don’t mention that since there is only one will within the Godhead, no action by any person is without participation and agreement of the other persons. Can we really say that The Gospel’s sole purpose is salvation, when in fact, God’s Word is both what produces faith and never returns void? Isn’t it more biblically sound to acknowledge that the purpose of the Good News is to both effectually call those predestined to salvation and to call those not predestined to salvation to rejection of Christ. Thus there is really only one calling which always accomplishes what God intended.


Chad Paris

1 year ago

I cannot think of any other episodes of media in which I have come away more encouraged or edified than this episode. Excellent stuff!


10 months ago

There is no question that justification follows effectual calling, whine he called he also justified.. in effectual calling God brings us to faith, and this faith is counted to us as righteousness, so clearly justification follows faith. However, to state that regeneration precedes faith is unbiblical, Calvin in his Institutes clearly teaches that regeneration follows faith (faith unites us to Christ and two gifts follow, i.e. regeneration and justification). Acts 2:38 is very clear, repent and be baptized for the remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit) . Regeneration follows faith and baptism according to Acts 2:38, because the Holy Spirit which gives life is given subsequent to faith. Faith is a gift of God, not a work of man, in effectual calling God gives us faith and regeneration follows the effectual call and never precedes it. This is the biblical teaching. Can a baby in the womb be regenerated, of course, the best example is John the Baptist who leaped in the womb when Elizabeth saw Mary pregnant. But even in the case of John the Baptist he had faith and trust in Jesus and leaped in the womb when he was close to Jesus in Mary”s womb and faith preceded regeneration even for John the Baptist.


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