John Piper, in a sermon, “God Called Us into Life and Hope,” comments on the passage in 1 Corinthians that is in our reading for today:
At first glance the call of God does not look like a foundation for assurance. If somebody calls you on the phone and invites you to dinner, is that really a foundation of assurance that you will get there, or even that you will want to get there? So we have some work to do here so that you can see why the call of God to eternal life is in fact very different from a human invitation to dinner. It is a powerful, irrevocable foundation for full assurance. It is an objective saving work of God that overcomes everything in its path and creates what it commands.
To see the full force of this great work of God let’s do what verse 26 says to do: “Consider your call!”
1. God’s Call
God is the one who calls.
1 Corinthians 1:9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” So it’s clear this call we are talking about is God’s call. He is the one who calls. He always does it through the gospel. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says, “He called you through our gospel.” The call of God is not exactly the same as the preaching of the word of the gospel (which we will see in a moment) but it never comes without the gospel. God’s call is what happens when the gospel comes with irresistible force. It’s the gospel with an omnipotent supercharge.
2. An Effectual Call
The call of God is effective; it creates what it commands.
This is what makes God’s call so different from a phone call inviting us for dinner. God’s call comes with the power to do what it demands. To see this you have to distinguish this call of God from the general preaching of the gospel or witnessing to a friend. The call of God may or may not come in those acts of witness.
A Call Goes Out to All People in One General Sense
Look at verses 22–24, “The Jews demand signs, and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Consider carefully what’s happening here. Paul preaches Christ crucified. He tells the story of Jesus dying to save sinners. He offers Christ to everyone who will receive him as the power and the wisdom of God. So in one crucial sense Paul and God are calling all people to take Christ into their lives as power and wisdom. And that’s the way we should witness and preach—indiscriminately, to Jew and Gentile and every race and people and tongue and tribe and nation.
Some Respond with Faith, Others Do Not
When we do, the same thing happens that happened when Paul preached. Some listeners stumble over the gospel as unacceptable. Some say it is foolishness. But some respond and say, “This Christ is the true power of God and the true wisdom of God.” And they believe and are saved.
But what makes the difference? The answer is in verse 24: Christ is a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but “to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.” In other words, the preaching of the gospel is not exactly the same as the call of God. All the Jews and Greeks were hearing the preaching of the gospel. But some were rejecting it. But some were accepting it. Who were they? They were the ones that God called. “To those who were called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [was received as] the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
So the call of God is not like a phone call inviting us to dinner. That’s what the gospel is. All are invited to dinner. And whosoever will may come. But the call of God is what happens when the gospel comes with irresistible force. It’s the gospel with an omnipotent supercharge. It creates the response it commands, namely, faith.
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