The key idea in I Corinthians 7:17-24 is that of calling. Forms of the verb "call" are used here eight times and the noun "calling" occurs once: "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called" (20). There are two meanings of "call" or "calling," both in English and in Greek. One is the "effectual call," a work of God’s grace. The other is one’s "vocation," a work of God’s providence. Both of these calls—the effectual call and our vocation—come to the elect in God’s love in Christ Jesus. But which of these is spoken of in the nine instances in our text? Both are included in verse 20: "Let every man abide in the same calling [vocation] wherein he was called [effectual call]." Sometimes it is vocation; sometimes it is the effectual call; sometimes it is not that clear, for the two ideas here are closely related. This is indicated by the same word "call" being used for both meanings. Also both words, in different ways, express God’s sovereignty over and love for us. Thus both our effectual call and our vocation serve our salvation.
We ought to note the basic structure of I Corinthians 7:17-24. You will need your Bible open here. The principle is stated: "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches" (17). The principle is applied to situation 1: circumcision or uncircumcision (18-19). The principle is restated in different words (20) and applied to situation 2: slaves or free (21-23). Finally, the principle is again laid down: "Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God" (24).
Let us consider, in turn, the effectual call (this month) and then vocation (next month, DV). The effectual call is God’s powerful speech to the heart of the elect sinner translating him out of darkness into His marvellous light. The effectual call has two aspects: the external proclamation of the true gospel of God’s grace and the internal operation of the Holy Spirit, working powerfully by the preached word so that the elect sinner comes to Christ in faith.
The effectual call is one, for the external preaching and the internal operation of the Spirit are two aspects of one call of the elect. We distinguish the two elements but we do not separate them. It is gracious, springing from God’s eternal love earnestly desiring our salvation. It is particular for it comes to the elect alone, for "whom he did predestinate, them he also called" (Rom. 8:30). It is also irresistible, effecting the salvation of all those "chosen" in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4), infallibly bringing us to glory.
- Volume: 10
- Issue: 12
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851