In this verse, Paul continues to describe aspects of activity of the heavenly Father in helping his people. Here the apostle refers to four acts of the Father. The first act (predestinated) occurred in eternity past, the second and third acts (called and justified) occur at conversion, and the fourth act (glorified) happens later.
We saw when thinking about verse 28 that predestination is connected to God’s determination to provide certain benefits for those he foreknew (fore-loved). That verse (28) says he predestinated the final outcome, which is total likeness to Jesus. Our verse indicates that he has also provided the means by which this likeness will be achieved and mentions three of them. We will consider the first of them today, the Father’s call.
We are aware that the term ‘calling’ is used in different ways in the Bible. In order to understand the differences we have divided the usages into two categories. One of those categories is what is called God’s general call to sinners and the other is what is called God’s effectual call of sinners. Which is intended here?
God’s general call occurs whenever the gospel is mentioned to a person who needs it, whether in a sermon or in a conversation or in a book. In this general call God publicly invites sinners to believe in Jesus and receive eternal life. This is obviously a gracious call to undeserving sinners. Moreover it is a genuine call – God means what he says when he makes it.
Every Christian has received this call at least once. It is impossible normally for a person to be converted without being aware of the gospel invitation. Of course, it is a fact that most believers confess, and confess sadly, that they refused or ignored the gospel invitation many times.
The call that is mentioned in our text does not refer to the general call in particular, although we must remember that the general call is part of the effectual call. The call Paul has in mind here is the call of the Father that always results in specific converts whom he addressed in a life-giving manner and they responded in repentance and faith.
The Father’s effectual call gives great pleasure to him. Every time it happens, it is an experience for him of his loving grace as he draws to himself by the power of his Spirit an individual for whom his Son died an atoning death.