God’s Word speaks of Christians as “them who are the called” (Romans 8:28). Every Christian is called of the Lord; he hears and follows His voice. As Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27; cf. vv. 4, 16). So Paul reminded the Roman believers that “Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6). Every sheep in His flock responds to His call by following Him.
God’s call to Christians is not based on the merit of their works, but based on His grace and His own purpose – “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). The source of both our calling and our salvation is His gracious purpose. Romans 8:28 also reminds us that we are “the called according to his purpose”.
His Word also teaches us that God’s call to Christians is unto several divine purposes. Without any distinction, every Christian is called to manifest the purposes of His call. “And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:23–24). The purpose of God’s gracious call is not only confined to the Jews, but it is also opened to non-Jews, that all believers without discrimination may become vessels of His glorious purposes.
In the next few posts, I shall endeavour to explain to my readers, the manifold purposes of His call. May the Lord renew your hearts by the knowledge of the truth of His call to you.
1. The call to salvation
God, who has elected us before the foundation of the world, calls us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul mentions our calling unto salvation by the Gospel in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Gospel preaching is a call of God to sinners to come to salvation He has prepared in Christ Jesus. So all of us who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation are the called of God.
The truth of God’s call unto salvation is also expressed clearly in Romans 8:28-30, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose… Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” The election of God is effected in our hearts when He calls us by the Gospel of Christ, hence it is said, “whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” When we respond to that call by faith, we are justified – i.e. we are declared not guilty – for Christ has cancelled our sins and guilt by His suffering and death on our behalf.
2. The call to sanctification
In Romans 1:7, the apostle Paul reminded the believers in Rome that they were “called to be saints”. In fact, Paul has reminded believers in other places too that they are called to be saints (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2). God’s people are those whom God has called out of their sinful lives to live as saints of God. So God’s call to Christians is to live a sanctified life. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:7).
Have you been yielding to the temptations of sin? Are you cultivating a close relationship or friendship with the ungodly? Do you go to places of sinful temptations? How sad it is that many church-goers have yielded themselves to the allurement of sins. Worldliness and carnality are seen even in the church leaders. Fornication, immodesty, enjoyment of pornography and sensual movies, pubbing and clubbing, covetousness, self-prominence, selfishness, being unforgiving, jealousy, deceitfulness, hypocrisy and many more such sins are rampant in the lives of many who attend churches today. They seem to be at complete ease with sin and worldliness. Many seem to adhere to the notion that God has given them grace to continue in sin. What a malady! What a tragedy!
Dear reader, if you are a Christian, then know this: that God has not called you to an unsanctified life, but to a saintly life. You must repent and turn away from your sins at once. Linger no more in sin. Pull away from your sins, and pray for God’s forgiveness and for His strength and wisdom to live a sanctified life. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1–2).
The Lord who has called you is also a holy God. Therefore, His calling to you is to live a holy life. Peter clearly declared this truth about our calling unto holiness in his first epistle – “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15–16). Our God is thrice holy. Isaiah 6:3 says of our Lord, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts.” Revelation 4:7 says, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” How can you praise Him if you live an unholy life?
The Lord who has called you unto sanctification is also a faithful God. If you have heard His Gospel call, you can now fully trust Him for the help you need to live a holy life. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24).
Likewise, in 2 Peter 1:3–4, the Lord promises His divine power to overcome the corruption of lust that is within us and to live unto glory and virtue. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Turn a deaf ear to the temptations of sins, lest you neglect the call of God unto holiness. But open your ears and hearts to take heed to His voice that calls you through His Word and His Spirit. If you obey His voice, you shall be holy.