When Scripture says that Christians are “the called”, it is not merely an indication that they are given an invitation or an offer to enter spiritual life and blessings. More importantly, it also denotes that they have been effectually drawn to inherit and experience the spiritual life and blessings which have been promised to them in the Gospel.
In the last article, we have considered the first two of the manifold purposes of Christians’ calling, (1) “The Call to Salvation” and (2) “The Call to Sanctification”. In this article, we will consider four more purposes of divine calling that believers received from God.
3. The Call to Separation
God calls all His people to come out of every form of false belief and ungodliness. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17). In the verses prior to this call to be separate from everything impure, the word of God expressly tells believers, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (vv. 14-16).
A similar call is given in Revelation 18:4, “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” This is a call to the people of the last days to separate themselves from the great spiritual harlot (“The Great Babylon”), which is the syncretic religion of the last days.
Those who continue in close fellowship with those who are in error will be partakers of their sins. As a people redeemed by the grace of God, it is most fitting that we keep ourselves undefiled from all uncleanness. We must be unpolluted temples of our holy God. So every Christian is called to separate himself that he may be pure from the corruptions of unbiblical belief and practice. A solemn call is issued by God to all genuine believers to leave every form of unbelief and ungodliness.
4. The Call to Fellowship
According to 1 Corinthians 1:9, God has given a distinctive call to Christians to have fellowship with Christ – “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” Christians are marked out by their distinctive partnership with the Son of God.
“We are made partakers of Christ” (Hebrews 3:14), even, “partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). This is the design of the gospel call, that Christ may become ours, and that we may become His. We abide in Him and He abides in us, that we may be partakers of all His grace, wisdom, power and goodness (cf. John 15:4-9).
In Christ, we are called to partake of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4), holiness (Hebrews 12:10), suffering, glory and joy (1 Peter 4:13; 5:1).
Now when the Father gives His Son to us as our possession, He also communicates Himself to us without reservation. As John had written, “truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).
5. The Call to Sonship
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,” declares 1 John 3:1, “that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. It is all because of God’s love in Christ that we have the right to be called children of God.”
We were naturally rebels and enemies of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). It is His singular love that calls us to His sonship and not any merit in us. His great love is declared in His Word to assure all true Christians that “ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).
To affirm His calling of us unto sonship, God also gave us His Spirit who teaches us to lay claim to our position as children of God by addressing God in the most endearing manner. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:14-16). This joyful truth is repeated in Galatians 4:6, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
6. The Call to Eternal Life and Inheritance
God calls His people unto a higher and nobler inheritance than all that this world can offer. Some people speak of God’s call for them as a call unto gaining earthly riches and fame, and they struggle to lay hold on the material wealth and comfort. But in 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul reminded Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called.” The call of God makes us heirs of eternal life, God’s most wondrous gift. Eternal life is deliverance from eternal death, the doom of a burning hell. It is the blessing of a spiritual, abundant and heavenly life that God gives to His people through Jesus Christ. It also guarantees the pardon for the guilt of sin, and freedom from its tyrannous power. O how we should cherish this gift of God!
We are also told in Hebrews 9:15 that we are called to receive an eternal inheritance through Jesus Christ – “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” The curse of the law (the first testament) is taken away by Christ through His blood which He shed on the cross on our behalf. Now by His new covenant, we are called to receive an eternal inheritance instead of eternal damnation.
Eternal inheritance refers to all the eternal blessings that every Christian is promised in the Bible. It includes such promises as eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9; 9:12), eternal life, eternal home (2 Corinthians 5:1), eternal joy (Matthew 25:21,23; 1 Peter 4:13; Jude 1:24), eternal rewards (Matthew 5:12; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Colossians 3:23-24) and eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 Peter 5:10). Peter explains the eternal inheritance that we are called to receive as “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4-5).