Understanding The Bible
HOW GOD WORKS HIS CALLING FOR OUR GOOD
Isn't it exciting to know that the original word for Church, the Greek noun ekkleesia, is a cognate of the verb kaleoo meaning I call. That makes the Church a group of called-out ones. It means that the verb in our text, v 30, was so exciting to God that He employed the term for the special family of believers who are being called out to Him from Pentecost to the rapture. Actually the plural noun kleetois also appears, v 28c. Moreover the plural pronoun those is the object of the verb call.
The Call is According to His Purpose
Remember the term prothesis used in the first chapter of this book? It means to set forth a plan beforehand, to show the grand purpose of the whole movement of the text. So that makes God's call to your life and mine a vital connection for all of God's purpose as it is framed in the five components of Rom 8:28-30. That well-reasoned plan, with all the input of eternity, was the normative structure into which we have been called. It is His purpose in eternity to refer to us as called ones because it will glorify Him in His purposes, and in His perfect planning.
The Call Comes Through the Gospel
Perhaps the easiest place to discover that the call comes through the Gospel is in 2 Thess 2:13-14.
But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you brothers beloved of the Lord, because God has 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.
Two important things are to be learned from these two verses:
(1) The Gospel about Christ is the means by which the call is both made and heard.
(2) The glory of Christ is the permanent attraction that the Spirit always uses with people like you and me. Both of these points are blazing away from 2 Cor 4:3-6:
But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid in them who are lost: in whom the god of this age has pulled the blinders down over the minds of those who do not believe lest the light of the Gospel about the glory (brilliance) of Christ should break like dawn upon them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge about the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The fact that the Gospel is good news shows how great the five factors of Rom 8:28-32 really are. For if God had not done the things involved there, nothing would have been done for any of the sinful human race. Beyond this, the perfect program of God is in itself the best of news. It is the superior good. Heaven not only offered it but advertises it through the expository preaching and teaching of His sent ones. The superiority is revealed in the glory that is resident in the Gospel offer. This glory covers all the grandeur of God.
Glory is God's unique brilliance In which believers are privileged to share. It is brilliance of intellect for Christ has been made unto us wisdom, 1 Cor 1:30. It is brilliance of emotion for the love of Christ compels us, 2 Cor 5:14a. It is brilliance of will because the will of God was a delight for Christ to implement, Ps 40:8a.
His Call Defined
2 Peter 1:3-5 provides a warm definition of the call of which we are speaking. Verse 3c states that believers are called to glory and virtue. We have already provided a working definition of this term. We know that Jesus has this glory. We learn that Jesus shares this glory. This sharing started with the expository preaching of the Gospel. This sharing of glory continues through the exposition of the Word of God, for instance in 2 Cor 3:18.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
If the glass is a mirror, it mirrors forth the glory of the Lord from the pages of the Word. The exposition of this Word acts as a magnet to attract our attention. Our privilege is to behold. It warms us up for a long stay under its conditioning and brings about a continual transfiguration of our persons. We are called to this -- have we come to it? Your days of personal study of the Bible will reveal whether or not you have answered the call in the details: (1) Because of the glory of Christ in the Gospel preached to you. (2) Because of the glory of Christ in the Word of God being preached to you in an expository manner. This alone will prove the truth that is in the Gospel -- its call and conditioning.
The call is also to excellence. Excellence is a virtue, as the A. V. translates it, but it is far more than a virtue. It is to be thought of in terms of excellence instead of mediocrity. We can perhaps see this best in 1 Pet 2:9:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the excellencies of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
You will have noted the statement of election at the front door of the verse in the word chosen. It is expected that we will spend our eternal life demonstrating His excellences in everything. Also that we demonstrate that His excellences can be shared with His own and show up in our experiences.
Doing this uniquely demonstrates that we answered the call and were delivered from moral and spiritual darkness into His superior spiritual light.
It is in this spiritual light that we also know what it means to have been called into fellowship with of God's Son, 1 Cor 1:9.
God is faithful, by Whom we were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
As 1 John 1:6-7 indicates, fellowship is something to which we must be sensitized by the Holy Spirit.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not 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 continually cleanses us from every sin.
Walking or living in the light means living under the bright lights of the truth of the Gospel, Gal 2. The moral darkness is still there, but so is the new-to-us light. We have the added sense of others who walk the same way and thus share fellowship with them. So we have been called into a realm where we are kept clean by the AIDS-free blood of Jesus Christ. The call is then seen to be miraculously effective.
The Called Ones
The called ones come from the universe, not from some provincial zone. This is quite distinct from the order of things in Israel's day. Think of what a shocker it would have been to Jonah to hear Matthew 28:18-20:
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and in earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age."
The call is to go out to create the society of called out ones on a world-wide or universal scale. A called one will become a disciple who will sit at the feet of the real Master. He will be teachable in Christ's truth. He will obey His doctrine.
In Acts 1:8 the itinerary or agenda is set forth that promises a complete and orderly reaching of the earth, with a call.
1 Cor 1:24-31 depicts what called ones will see within their own society of called ones when they look around. What and who is not included is as clear as what and who is included in the VIP group.
Romans 1:6-7 underlines how distinct the group of called-ones will be:
You also are among the ones called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called set apart people.
This distinction is powerfully punctuated in 1 Thess 1:4-6:
Brothers loved by God, we know that He has chosen you, because our Gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, with deep convincing. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
It you need explanation of an effectual call, don't debate it, study it in this passage.
How can you tell a called one? Study the parables about the Wedding Feast, Matt 22:14 and of the Servants, Matt 20:16. The willingness of the guests and the workers is a dominant theme. The willfulness of those who were not chosen, in either case, was their downfall. It is a matter of the crossing of the will of man with the will of God. This is clearly seen with a whole nation in Matt. 23:37:
0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Finally, it is a matter of having the new and eternal life that counts, as John puts it in 1 Jn 5:10-11:
Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar because he has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
The called-ones know for themselves that they have this life. The world around them knows who has this life. But above all, God knows who has this life.
The Call is Into A Calling
We must first see that the call leads into a calling. One of the best places to discover this is in Eph 4:lb, "walk worthily of the calling for which you were called."
Second, we must see that this is not an avocation, a hobby for spare time attention. There are at least three major reasons why:
(1) This is a high, not low, calling, Heb 3:1. "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession." It is a high calling because of the place from which it came--respect this.
(2) It is indeed a heavenward calling, Phil 3:14 (Acts 26:19). "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
(3) It is a holy, set apart, distinctive calling, 2 Tim 1:9. "Who has 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 beginning of time."
If it is said not to be an avocation, it must be a vocation, as it truly is. It la a vocation that is loaded with at least three major things:
(1) It is a vocation that is full of value--we are to walk worthily of it, Eph 4:1. We are to evaluate this vocation as the highest one and show its value to us and our call/calling.
(2) It is a vocation full of hope--"open your eyes that you may know the hope to which He has called you," Eph 1:18. That hope is spread out in the classic passages just preceding this quote, Eph 1:3-14.
(3) It is a vocation full of experience--"With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."
The Writings of Douglas B. MacCorkle
see brief Biography)
Prophetic Peaks, Exposition of the Olivet Discourse. Copyright 1968 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. Third Printing 1972. Printed by Careers With Christ Press, Philadelphia College of Bible, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.
God's Own VIPS, Copyright 1987 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc., Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.
Dr. MacCorkle's Books and Study materials on this website are made available here free, through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them. No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without express permission.
Additional copies of Dr. MacCorkle's books are available from Judy Naugle, 2201 Harmony Hill Dr, Lancaster PA 17601.