Shorter Catechism Q. 32
Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.
Acts 3:26; Rom 8:28–30; Eph 1:3–4
God has a plan. He is not improvising his way through the affairs of the world or our lives. Instead, he is working out his set purpose, which was from before he created the world, to the goals he determined. Nowhere is this more clear than God’s purpose for those whom he effectually calls.
Remember what effectual calling is. Many hear the external call of God. But not everyone who is struck with God’s reality in the world, or even with the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, respond with faith. We know from Scripture and from experience that many people in fact respond to what they know about God by suppressing the truth. They reject God. There is really no denying there is something deeply perverse about the fallen human heart. Left to ourselves, we could never break out of our depravity.
But the Holy Spirit breaks us out of our depravity by renewing our heart. The Holy Spirit gives a new heart to those chosen by God, giving them the desire and the ability to hear the voice of their Shepherd not only with their ears, but with their heart. So when the Shepherd calls them, they know his voice and follow him. This, of course, is effectual calling.
But what plans does God have for his people? Why does he effectually call people to his son Jesus Christ? Those God predestines and calls, he justifies. He forgives all their sins and declares them righteous before him. Now the justified believers do not worry whether their lives are good enough to please God. Jesus’ life was good enough! So we have confidence through Jesus Christ who was perfect in every way, with whom we have become one.
Those he justifies, he also sanctifies. God does not “just” remove the curse of sin by canceling our debt of sin. But he also breaks the bondage of sin over us. So that, as believers walk in the Spirit, God gradually, but certainly, breaks us free from sin’s bondage, and we become more and more like Jesus Christ. Of course, no Christian will ever be so perfect in this life that sin does not grieve them anymore. But when we struggle with sin, we no longer struggle as debtors before God, but as God’s beloved children. Our struggle with sin is no longer a matter of belonging to his family or not. We belong. Now the issue is being what we are called to be: children of God living to please their gracious and loving Father.
In other words, God’s plan is to bless his children. From the beginning to the end his purpose is to draw us out of death into life, to welcome us into his fellowship. Words can hardly capture his deep love with which he has planned out our lives! Nothing can ever happen to us in this world that is not a part of God’s loving plan for us - no tragedies, no sickness, no disappointment, no grief - nothing can happen to us except as God has planned in his love. All things will work together for good for us!
So, do you trust him? Are you anxious about your life? Why? Are you fearful? What for? Are you discouraged? You don’t have to be. God does not improvise. He knows how to finish what he began.