This is the fifth in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.
While there is a general call to everyone to trust in Christ through the proclamation of the gospel, God also extends an effectual call to those He foreknew, elected, and predestined. For every child of God, there is a time when the Holy Spirit draws him or her personally to faith in Christ, resulting in belief and repentance that lead to everlasting life.
The words “call,” “called,” and “calling” in Scripture are derived from several Hebrew and Greek words and are applied in various ways. Generally speaking, these words mean “to call, summon, invite, appeal, or proclaim.”
Concerning God’s call to salvation, William Mounce writes, “When God calls, it is a call that roots in predestination and ends in glorification (Rom. 8:29-30). God calls us by his grace. But his calling is not only to salvation; it is also to a life of serving him and our fellow believers.”
This call is expressed in two ways in the New Testament: A general call to everyone through creation, conscience, the canon of Scripture, and the gospel of Christ; and an effectual call to those God foreknew, elected, and predestined, resulting in belief and repentance that lead to everlasting life. God chooses His people unconditionally, yet eternal life is conditioned on faith in Christ.
This is not a mechanistic process by which God fatalistically picks some for eternal life and, with equal passion, morbidly chooses others for outer darkness. Rather, it is a mysterious working of the triune God as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit call upon all people to repent, while enabling those who receive the call to enter God’s kingdom.