As some of you know, I've been thinking about theology lately (in between Shakespeare and Benjamin Franklin and depressing World Lit books... or rather, during all these, which gets interesting). I am very out of practice in thinking logically, boldly, and humbly, all at once. So I want to use some blog posts to explain and wrestle with some thoughts and concepts and seeming confusing conundrums. Sometimes I might just post a quote or verse or idea that made me think. Here's something I read today I found interesting...
John Piper on God's General vs. Effectual Call:
"But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24) but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." Notice carefully that Paul preaches Christ to Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately. In that sense all are called. But that is not the sense in which Paul uses the word. He says that out from among those who hear the general call there are those who are "called." And the difference is that those who are called in this narrower sense stop regarding Christ as a stumbling block and as folly. Instead they regard him as the power of God and the wisdom of God. Verse 24: "But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [becomes] the power of God and the wisdom of God."
The call of God that Paul has in mind is not like the call of a pet: "Here Blackie. Here Blackie. Come on girl." Blackie may or may not come. The call of God is like the call of Jesus to the corpse of Lazarus: "Lazarus, come forth!" The call contains the power to produce what it commands. It is an effectual call. That is why Paul can say in Romans 8:30 that all "those who are called are justified." The certainty of their justification lies in the fact that the faith by which men are justified is produced by the effectual call of God.
From this sermon by John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
Besides these two types of calling, there are other areas where God does something general and specific. General revelation is what everyone knows about God, as He has revealed Himself through nature. But it is the special revelation of the Bible that reveals Him most truly. There are the general gifts of grace and lovingkindness He sheds abroad to all His creation (rain, sunshine, air, etc.), but there is also a specific lovingkindness for his children that is so much more, which is salvation and all-satisfying joy through Christ. Everyone gets the general. Only a few the specific.
So, how do we know the difference between these general and specific things in Scripture? What are the implications of there being a difference at all?
Hmm. I must get back to my paper Shakespeare paper, but hope to think and write more soon. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts! :-)