A Sermon on the Effectual Call
The gospel call goes to all, but only some are saved. Some are not saved. What’s the difference? In this sermon titled “Effectual Call,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines that while the gospel call goes to all, this effectual calling goes to those who will be saved. On its own, humanity is incapable of any true spiritual activity. No one can know the things of God. How, then, does one ever come to the point of discerning and delighting in the truth of God? Dr. Lloyd-Jones traces the theology of this effectual calling through the Scriptures. In it, he demonstrates that this effectual call is what enables Christians to receive the gospel. It is the internal operation of the Holy Spirit upon the souls of humanity. It produces change. And since this calling is the work of the Spirit, it is absolutely certain. The called person will now desire the truth of God. They are able to know the things of God. This is not something they have done for themselves, but it is the work of God. They are, therefore, debtors to mercy alone. Listen, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones declares, “I am what I am by the grace of God.”
- The sermon begins by acknowledging that different preachers organize the work of the Holy Spirit in different ways. The preacher says his approach is to view salvation from God's eternal perspective.
- The preacher establishes from Scripture that the saved are those who are effectually called by God. He cites Romans 8:28-30, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:24.
- The preacher says the effectual call is internal and spiritual, while the general call is external. He cites John 6:45, Ephesians 1:17, Philippians 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 2 Timothy 2:25.
- The preacher argues that the internal call of the Spirit is necessary for salvation. He cites Romans 8:5-8, 1 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:1.
- The preacher describes the effectual call as the exercise of the Holy Spirit's power in the soul, an immediate and direct operation of the Spirit that enables spiritual activity.
- The preacher cites Lydia's conversion in Acts 16:14 as an example of the effectual call. Though many heard Paul preach, Lydia's heart was opened by the Lord so she could respond.
- The preacher expounds on 1 Corinthians 2:10-15, arguing that spiritual truth can only be understood through the Spirit's work. The "natural man" cannot receive the things of the Spirit.
- The preacher says the effectual call is certain and sure because it is God's work. He does not like the term "irresistible grace" because it implies God coerces against our will. Rather, God persuades our will so we desire Him.
- The preacher closes with a prayer, thanking God for His mercy in bringing us from death to life, and asking God to fill us with gratitude and love.
Great Biblical Doctrines
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.