I Corinthians 7:17-24 stresses that the effectual call comes to men and women in their earthly calling or vocation. God not only determines whom He calls but also when and in what circumstances He calls each elect sinner to salvation. Thus God’s effectual call (grace) comes to the elect sinner in his earthly vocation (providence). In both the heavenly call and our earthly calling, Jehovah is absolutely sovereign (cf. "as God hath distributed to every man" ).
Consider Paul’s coming to preach the gospel in Corinth. God has many elect people there (Acts 18:10) and, in His sovereign providence, His people are in various vocations. Some are slaves; others are proselytes; one is a married woman with four children; one is a blacksmith; another is a single man on the city council, etc. God’s effectual call comes to these people in their respective callings. For God not only calls elect sinners, but He calls them as those who are mothers or farmers or Gentiles or slaves, etc. In all this, He is fulfilling His purpose in gathering a catholic or universal church as the body of Jesus Christ.
Paul cites as his first example circumcision, the sign of the greatest distinction among the nations that between Jews and Gentiles (I Cor. 7:18-19). Circumcision, of course, is the removal of the foreskin of Jewish boys (on the eighth day after birth) or male Gentile converts. The gospel in Corinth converted circumcised Jews and Gentile proselytes and uncircumcised Gentiles. Uncircumcised Gentiles might think that they ought to be circumcised. This would show that they were no longer pagans and this would please the Judaizers, who taught that circumcision is necessary for salvation. Those circumcised might reckon that they should become uncircumcised. Had not most circumcised Jews rejected the Messiah? Did not baptism replace circumcision?
What does the apostle say? "Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised" (18). Why ought the saints not circumcise or uncircumcisethemselves? "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing" (19). What then is the important thing? "keeping … the commandments of God" (19). In Christ, as Paul puts it in Galatians, "neither circumcision availethany thing, nor uncircumcision" but "a new creature" (6:15) or "faith which worketh by love" (5:6). Since circumcision is nothing—neither advantageous nor sinful—"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was [effectually] called" (I Cor. 7:20).
- Volume: 10
- Issue: 13
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