The Effectual Call Comes from God’s Everlasting Love

By Mike Ratliff

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” 2 Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.  (Genesis 15:1-6 NASB) 

In Genesis 15:1-6 (above), God gives us through His prophet Moses probably one of the most important truths found in His Word. This truth is all wrapped up in God’s Sovereignty. In v1 we read that through a vision given to him by God, Abram learns that God is his shield and that he will receive a great reward. In vv2-3 we witness Abram’s fear and his plea for an heir from his own loins. His focus is temporal, but he recognizes that unless God ordains it, there will be no child of his own. Here we see that Abram is no different than us. When he is in control then he is dominated by fear and unbelief. However, in vv4-5 God gently deals with Abram’s unbelief and fear by assuring him that he would indeed have a son and that his descendants would be innumerable. From this we learn that God’s promises are eternally focused even if they have temporal elements. We are called to believe based on His character not our circumstances. In these two verses, we have God’s effectual call of Abram. In v6 we read that Abram believed the Lord, and God counted it to him as righteousness. As a result of every effectual call by God, the one called by God believes Him and as a result He justifies them. They are saved by grace through the saving faith that accompanies every effectual call. 

However, Christians are like Abraham in another way. We are living in between the promise and the fulfillment just as He was. Therefore, we live in an environment that is unredeemed and hostile to God’s truth and especially the genuine gospel. We struggle with becoming too focused on the temporal and this results in us becoming all bound up in fear and unbelief. When we attempt to draw closer to God and become the Christians we are called to be, we are attacked and accused by the enemy who attempts to make us believe that we are not saved by grace through faith like Abram, but by our faithfulness instead. If we listen to this then we can become quite discouraged because we are far from perfect. However, God is good to those whom He has called.

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  (Romans 8:26-30 NASB)

29 ὅτι οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς· 30 οὓς δὲ προώρισεν, τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν· καὶ οὓς ἐκάλεσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδικαίωσεν· οὓς δὲ ἐδικαίωσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδόξασεν.  (Romans 8:29-30 NA28)

In vv29-30 of Romans 8 we have the truth of our calling. We see that all those whom God has effectually called were foreknown (προέγνω) by Him. This describes God choosing a people for Himself in advance. He chose them then predestined (προώρισεν) them to be conformed to the image of His Son. This word, προώρισεν, describes the action of determining that those foreknown will be conformed to the image of the Son. However, we must also look a v30 from which we learn that our salvation is something not left to chance. Also, we learn what God does to conform us to the image of the Son. He makes sure that they believe through the effectual call. All those called are justified by faith. All those who are justified are glorified, which is the fulfillment of the promise. This should give us comfort my brethren not divide us. Also, we learn that there is a specific change in all those who are truly called by God.

“Whom He did predestinate, them He also called.”-Romans 8:30

In the second epistle to Timothy, first chapter, and ninth verse, are these words-“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling.” Now, here is a touchstone by which we may try our calling. It is “an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.” This calling forbids all trust in our own doings, and conducts us to Christ alone for salvation, but it afterwards purges us from dead works to serve the living and true God. As He that hath called you is holy, so must you be holy. If you are living in sin, you are not called, but if you are truly Christ’s, you can say, “Nothing pains me so much as sin; I desire to be rid of it; Lord, help me to be holy.” Is this the panting of thy heart? Is this the tenor of thy life towards God, and His divine will? Again, in Philippians, 3:13, 14, we are told of “The high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Is then your calling a high calling? Has it ennobled your heart, and set it upon heavenly things? Has it elevated your hopes, your tastes, your desires? Has it upraised the constant tenor of your life, so that you spend it with God and for God? Another test we find in Hebrews 3:1-“Partakers of the heavenly calling.” Heavenly calling means a call from heaven. If man alone call thee, thou art uncalled. Is thy calling of God? Is it a call to heaven as well as from heaven? Unless thou art a stranger here, and heaven thy home, thou hast not been called with a heavenly calling; for those who have been so called, declare that they look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they themselves are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. Is thy calling thus holy, high, heavenly? Then, beloved, thou hast been called of God, for such is the calling wherewith God doth call His people. – C.H. Spurgeon from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for October 11.

My brethren, all in Christ are so according to God’s grace not according to anything they have done (Ephesians 2:8,9). Just like Abram, we are justified (declared righteous) by God because we have believed Him in the promise of the Son. We believe because we have been effectually called with a holy call according to the purposes of God, not the purposes of any man. Also, our righteousness before God is that of His Son, not ours.

Our enemy will attempt to accuse us of all sorts of things in order to discourage us in an attack on the conscience. If he can damage it then we become wounded warriors in the good fight. Therefore, it is imperative that we understand that we are in Christ according to the work of God and remain in Him because He preserves us in the Son. Therefore, when we are accused of being not fit to be called Christians because of our weaknesses in the flesh, we should simply agree with the accuser, but then turn to our Lord as we come boldly to the throne of grace in repentance. We will never be perfect in this time between the promise and the fulfillment, but there is a time coming, our glorification, when we will be finally conformed unto the image of the Son in our character. Now, we must understand that we are called to walk the narrow path to the Celestial City, which means we are called to be sold-out disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ in an environment designed to test and try us in the fires of sanctification. This environment is totally hostile to God and His truth and hates the Gospel, that is, the real Gospel not the easy-beleivism one that never mentions sin and the utter spiritual bankruptcy of all outside of His grace.

Soli Deo Gloria!

18 thoughts on “The Effectual Call Comes from God’s Everlasting Love

  1. “26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

    When my wife was first diagnosed with breast cancer, and we still “attended church,” there was an “alter call” for all who were effected by cancer. At least 100 people “went forward” that morning. As the “lead pastor” prayed, my wife let out a groan that was not of this world. When the pastor was done praying he came directly to us and looked us in the eyes and said that the church would stand by us and care for us and not to fear. I replied to him, “You don’t understand, Satan has picked on the wrong family! We will only increase our ministry through this!” The man literally fell back away from us in a dazed look of astonishment! My wife and I were in complete peace. She asked why he came to us out of all those folks who went forward and I said that I thought it was her loud groan. She replied, “What groan?” and “I did?”
    Her position was, as was mine that the Lord had our backs! We slept like babies even though many folks rebuked us for our unbelief for saying our prayer was for His Will, regardless of the outcome of that walk. “Oh no!” They would cry, “We are praying for your complete healing and for a miracle! You need more faith!!” We would try to explain that God delivers His own through not from tribulations.

    My wife literally ministered through all of it, and there were many His-incidences in the surgery through the weeks of daily radiation. She took pies and scriptures to the many folks at the cancer center through all of it. Ministering to the sick and scared…

    She is now a 2 time survivor of breast cancer, and a walking testimony to all who face going through fires. As for the church taking care of us? LOL we saw nothing from them, not even a meal! LOL But we were able to deliver Spiritual Food to many fellow attenders, and this continues even unto today, though we no longer attend there.

    He has always “had our back!” Men will fail you, and that is to be expected, and not troubled over…But the peace that passes all understanding? He has your back!

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  2. Thanks for that Mickey. I haven’t shared much about this because it is a private matter and it is ongoing. I have a nephew who has brain cancer. He is the same age as my daughter. He is married with two young sons. His mother is my sister. He has had surgery after surgery and radiation and chemo treatments it seems forever and every time it looks like he is about to have a clean bill of health a tumor comes back. Right now he has one on his brain stem that is inoperable. Because of the size and all it means he can’t talk or walk.

    What about his faith? What about his wife’s faith? What about the faith of my sister and brother-in-law and their two other children? I have watched a family that was extremely blessed by God financially that had just about everything you could ask for in this world to one that now has an eternal perspective and every email or phone call I have with them is full of expressions of faith and how God is sovereign and it is all in his hands… We share this whole thing with our church and what is the result? They pray for God’s will to be done and for that family and us to be strengthened in the Lord. Wow, are those prayers being answered? Yes, we pray for healing, but primarily we pray for God to be glorified in all this and is he ever! I hurt for my nephew and his family and try to help then as we can. However, we also point others to how God is taking them through this fiery trial and everyone marvels.

    Please pray for my sister and her family in this. No one knows how much longer my nephew Travis has and they are even now talking about just making his last days as comfortable as possible. Well, God is good to those who love him…We shall see.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  3. Yes, this is a wicked place that Satan has his throne in. But he is no more than a prince defeated and no king! America has known little of tribulation, and thus we have often an earthly perspective not a heavenly one.
    As you have aptly pointed out here many times, those who are born from above draw closer to Him through these things. He perfects us through the trials and tribulations. My son, for example as you know has had brain surgery as well and while the congenital condition has been relieved, the head pains continue, plus he now knows of his own inoperable tactile glioma
    which thankfully has not grown and created trouble. He too draws much closer to the Lord then his carefree friends. This is quite different then my dad, a deist who has metastatic lung cancer and is in palliative care currently. His treatment literally reduced the cancers 95% which is extraordinary. He has no pain and literally has a normal life, yet refuses to believe in Jesus, though he prays to his god and acknowledges that God has been very good to him.
    Thus we see that it indeed rains on the just and unjust equally, yet their is, or should be at least, a joy at the home going of a saint and mourning by flesh at the demise of the lost.
    God has given my dad a near perfect life yet he rejects with anger any discussion of Jesus.
    We will certainly be praying His will in your familie’s lives and for His peace that passes all understanding to envelope all. We will pray also that, should He see healing Travis as a way to bring glory to His Name and a witness of Who He is that we would praise Him in that also!!
    “Though He slay me yet I will praise Him!”
    He has our backs…regardless of the outcome from our point of perspective, He has our backs, and ye even all of our being!
    I appreciate you JMR!

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  4. families’ I guess… Man I am learning to “cypher proper like” after being out of public edumacation fer nigh on 2 score or 40 years! Miss Maples would be right proud of me!

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  5. Dear Mike and Company,
    Mickey, thank you for sharing about your wife and her strong testimony for the Lord through her trials.

    Mike, thanks for sharing your prayer request for Travis and his family. I will be in prayer for them. I have an urgent prayer request too. My older brother is in constant horrible pain from severe gout and rheumatoid arthritis. I just don’t know how he can live with the pain he is enduring and as far as I can tell he does not know Jesus as Savior yet. It seems as if God is drawing him and he is reaching out to me and is open to the Lord. I have encouraged him to read the book of John and to ask God to help him through this. Please pray first for his salvation and then for God’s will to be done in either healing him or giving him the grace to bear it. I know so many saints visit this blog and I would appreciate any prayers on my brothers behalf. Gratefully, charisse

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  6. Pingback: The Effectual Call Comes from God’s Everlasting Love | GalatiaU

  7. @ Manfred
    Look at what you’re reading on this site, and your profile says you enjoy camping and motorcycle riding, and your picture is a super-hero-mickey mouse.
    Where is the death to yourself? And what fellowship does that cartoon have with Christ? especially considering the super-hero part of it, is that not witchcraft? and an idol?
    2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (KJV)
    “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

    I pray you repent and that the Lord will work in your heart to be given to Him alone, even ever-increasingly more, if He Wills.

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  8. Drew – That’s Mighty Mouse, not mickey mouse. I need repent of having liked Mighty Mouse as a child? I need repent of enjoying some of the good things the Lord has given me and my wife? Did you read the rest of my short profile and see any evidence that I recognize my need of the grace of God? Lastly, you know me not, why do you have the need to rebuke me?

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  9. Mike, , Mickey, Charisse…I have been so blessed by this post and all the comments…Shall start praying for Travis and his family again…For your sister, Mike and others in the family, for Mickey’s son…(even his Dad)…for Charisse’s brother…
    Would you all pray for my son…He has been suffering from much abdominal distress and pain in the last month, that was thought to be maybe due to gall bladder stones…but rapid loss of weight has made the doctor ask for a CT scan this Friday…
    I have been praying that all this will bring him closer to true faith….( his inclinations have been towards the emerging Church…over the last few years.and he has not welcomed any cautions from me)… and utter dependence on the Lord.
    I would be so grateful for your prayers for him..!

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