The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Those Who Are Called

 

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (I Cor. 2:22-25)


Who are “those who are called”?

Does God only call a select few from among the Jews and Gentiles, and enable only them to answer the call? Does God then cause those select few whom He called to inherit eternal life? If you only read the following passage, you might think so:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom. 8:28-30)

Paul is referring to those who presently “love God.” “Those who are called” = “those who love God.” Those who love God are “the called according to His purpose,” because they are submitted to His purposes rather than their own. And these, Paul says, were “foreknown” by God, predestined to look like Jesus, called to follow Jesus, justified and glorified. Paul speaks of these things as having already been done in the past, but this does not mean that a calling guarantees the final glorification. We need to carefully weigh this passage with other passages before concluding that God only calls certain people, or that one who is calledalways inherits eternal life.

Remember, Peter acknowledged that some of Paul’s writings were “hard to understand,” and “untaught and unstable people” were twisting his writings to their own destruction. Then Peter warns, “THEREFORE…beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” (2 Pet. 3:15-17) So let us have a look at other Scriptures that speak of our being called.

The call can be ignored with terrible consequences.

Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes (Prov. 1:24-26)

This call of God to hear His wisdom and submit to it has gone out since the beginning to all simple ones, scorners and fools (1:20-22). This is a call to forsake our own wisdom and cleave to God’s Wisdom (Christ.) But many refuse to take God’s hand, disdain His counsel, and reject His rebuke. He called, but they refused. It is only those who turn at God’s rebuke who come to know His words (1:23). Many in Jesus’ day had already been ignoring God’s call; thus their hearts were ill-prepared to see the salvation of God (Psa. 50:23). They would not turn at His rebuke, so they were denied access to His Words.

The call comes through/in God’s Grace.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace… (Gal. 1:15)

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel. (Gal. 1:6)

This is the same grace that has appeared to all men and teaches them to livesoberly, righteously and godly (Titus 2:11-12). When Jesus was lifted up, He drew all men to Himself. The ultimate display of God’s love should cause us to love Him and answer His call to be like Him. But there are some who count the blood of Christ a common thing and insult the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29).

The call comes by the gospel.

to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 2:14)

And to whom are we commanded to give the gospel?–to every creature from every nation (Mk. 16:15; Col. 1:23).

The call includes a command to repent (Not everyone repents).

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

Peter is teaching that everyone who is called can receive the promise if they repent! The call itself does not necessarily mean eternal life is guaranteed.

The call is a call to leave darkness and come dwell in light.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (I Pet. 2:9)

The call is a call to follow Jesus.

Early in Jesus’ ministry, He began to call men to follow Him. We should wonder what made Him call certain people and not other people in those early days. Why did He call fishermen and a tax collector, for example, rather than esteemed leaders of the day. Wouldn’t more well-known people have had more influence? Paul explained this in I Cor. 1:26-31–

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Notice:

1. The words “called” and “chosen” seem interchangeable in this passage. For example, “Not many wise…are called, but God has chosen the foolish.”

2. God purposely refrained from choosing that which had fleshly glory, so that no flesh could glory in His presence.

3. In so doing, He fulfilled His word in Psa. 18:27, 25:9; 147:6, 149:4; Prov. 3:34, etc., in which He promises to save and help the humble. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble!

Does this mean that someone who had an esteemed position among men could not be called, chosen, or saved?–No, for Paul was advanced in Judaism and his credentials did not keep him from being saved. Yet he had to humble himself and submit to Jesus, counting his credentials as rubbish (Phil. 3:8). Many who have the esteem of men will not risk losing it for Christ, as Paul did. Nicodemus also was a leader who was looking for truth, and Jesus responded to his search for understanding by teaching him.

The call is a call into the fellowship of Jesus.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (I Cor. 1:9)

Is one who is called into this fellowship guaranteed to remain in this fellowship?

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I Jn. 1:5-7)

We must walk/remain in the light in order to remain in fellowship with Jesus.

The call to fellowship with Jesus is a call to suffer patiently.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps I Pet. 2:21

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10).

not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. I Pet. 3:9

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. I Pet. 5:10

If we aren’t willing to suffer with Him, neither will we be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:17).

The call is a call to fight a good fight.

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Tim. 6:12)

The call is a call to be holy, obedient saints.

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: (Rom. 1:5-7)

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (I Cor. 1:2)

but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. (I Pet. 1:15)

The call is answered when someone obeys it by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called… (Heb. 11:8)

The call must be followed by knowing the One who called us.

As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. (2 Pet. 1:3)

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)

We must walk worthy of the calling! (Some do not!)

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. (Eph. 4:1)

We do this by putting off the old man with all of its ungodly behaviors, and being taught by Christ how to live in true righteousness and holiness (same chapter, vss. 17-32).

We must be diligent to make our calling and election sure, lest we stumble!

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble. (2 Pet. 1:10)

If you do these things you will never stumble“–the things mentioned in vss. 5-7. That is, we must add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. If we do not do these things, our calling and election are still unsure.

We must go past being called to being sanctified and preserved in Jesus.

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ. (Jude 1)

Those who are not sanctified are not doing God’s will (I Thess. 4:3). Only those who do God’s will and obey Christ’s teachings shall be saved (Matt. 7:21). We are sanctified and preserved as we abide in Jesus, the Word of God. Scripture is clear that those who don’t remain abiding in Jesus will be cut off the Vine because of their fruitlessness (Jn. 15:5-6).

We must go past being called to being chosen and faithful.

For many are called, but few are chosen. Matt. 22:14

Judas was called and even given supernatural power–

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. (Matt. 10:1)

Judas was chosen

Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (Jn. 6:70)

But Judas was not faithful

This he [Judas] said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. (Jn. 12:6)

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ (Jn. 13:17-18)

Those with Jesus are called, chosen, and faithful:

These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)

In summary, the call of God goes out through the earth to all nations, to every creature. So in that sense, all men are called to come to Christ. Yet, “those who are called” in our original passage refers to those who have not ignored the call (in general, the humble), have not received God’s grace in vain, have repented, and have obeyed the gospel. These are following and fellowshiping with Jesus, are suffering patiently, are fighting the good fight, are being holy and obedient, are walking worthy of their calling, and are being sanctified by Jesus as they abide in Him. These will inherit eternal life if they are faithful to the end, and do not turn from the heavenly calling as Judas did.

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