If we accept God's invitation, we have a purpose in His great plan. How are people called and with this rare opportunity what responsibilities do we have?
If you are reading this, chances are you have been issued an invitation to participate with God in His great plan. This invitation is the greatest thing that can happen to you. But don’t take it for granted. To have the opportunity granted to you to attain to such a “great salvation” is rare in this age.
We are told by the apostle Peter that we have a responsibility to make our calling and election sure in 2 Peter:1:3-11. Once we have escaped the corruption in the world, we need to give all diligence to 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. Quite a list, but being diligent in our lives to add these godly qualities is in fact cooperating with God to “make your call and election sure.” Peter asserts that if you do these things you will never stumble .
Paul adds, “We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” and “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews:2:1-3).
Just because we have been issued an invitation doesn’t mean that it’s a sure thing. We have a definite responsibility to accept and promote the work of Jesus Christ in us. His assurance to “live [abide] within us” shows His willingness to establish this intimate and effective relationship with us. How well Christ is able to have his mind formed within us is our part.
Why is He putting salvation in this age on the basis of a calling or election that we must respond to? To understand God’s plan as He is carrying it out makes all the difference to how we might respond. Here are seven points to think about when considering our calling.
1. God Has His Own Reasons for Choosing Humans
God told Abraham, “In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Here was a special calling by God to use Abraham to be the “father of the faithful.” God’s promise to bring salvation to all people began with Abraham. Once Abraham was chosen, it was up to him to know, believe and obey God. It was the same with Isaac and Jacob—it was God’s choice, and then the recipients had to respond.
“For the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand , not of works but of Him who calls” (Romans:9:11). Notice that Paul said that God’s purpose will stand through the election.
With God’s choice of David to establish His throne, and Jesus Christ as the promised seed who was to come, it was God’s plan and His choice alone. It’s been this way from the very beginning and continues to this day. Any time a person is brought into God’s purpose, it is God who initiates the action. We can be reassured that whatever God starts, He will finish. We are encouraged to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews:12:1-2). The margin says the originator and perfecter . God assures completion of His plan because He is the beginner of it.
2. The Father Does the Choosing, and Jesus Christ Accomplishes the Father’s Will
Notice how positively Jesus characterizes His part to successfully complete His Father’s will: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John:6:36-39).
The final choice, of course, is ours. But Jesus Christ is committed to do everything reasonable for us to achieve salvation in this age—an age where Satan’s design is to thwart God’s purpose. The devil’s way of life labors to under-rate God’s sincere intentions toward us.
We should always focus to avoid this continual erosion of our faith. Jesus said, “He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John:6:35). It is through Christ that we have the powerful alternative to the world’s attempts to falsely satisfy our deepest needs.
3. At Some Point You Were Foreknown by God and Predestined to Be One of His Called Ones in This Age
“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…” (Rom ans 8:29-30a). Can you imagine this? God had in view that He would embark on His plan to call people out of this age, and along the way, He called you. As stated earlier, His choosing was not based on your goodness, righteousness or because you were deserving. And you shouldn’t deny that you were of the blessed ones who got the invitation! The fact that God is the initiator says this is God’s doing. God assures us of success, not because of our abilities or intelligence, but because He is in charge and orchestrating events in our lives so that we may experience success.
4. God Is Determined for His Plan to Work
“Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other: I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done. Saying, ‘ My counsel [plans] shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure’” (Isaiah:46:9, emphasis added).
God, because of who He is, has the intent, the will, and the power to carry out everything and anything He purposes.
His plan from the beginning was to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews:2:10). The fact that Adam and Eve made a wrong choice because of Satan’s deception was not an obstacle to God. It is something He accounted for and indeed planned for. That passage goes on: “Make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.” It’s easy to forget that Jesus Christ “indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter:1:20).
We should never think that God was thwarted in His intentions to have children who would be conformed to His Son. Again, God worked this out in a very powerful and unmistakable way when He began to call those after Adam’s fateful choice. We can read about some of them in Hebrews 11.
5. God Doesn’t Reject Us Because We Have Made Mistakes
David sinned, but was willing to see the mistake and repent. David prayed: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You” (Psalm:51:12-13). David didn’t take God’s mercy for granted after that. David later confirmed that “His mercy endures for ever.” This shows God’s commitment to us. God is eternal. His purpose shall stand. Never doubt that God will see us through and extend His eternal mercy when needed. Remember, He began the process.
6. Bad Things That Happen Are Not Deterrents to God’s Work in Us
“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” (Romans:8:28). He doesn’t say all things that happen to us are good.We have many examples of the mistakes where we bring consequences on ourselves and of trials that seem to happen due to no fault of our own. This is not an indication of God’s displeasure or a diminishing of God’s special relationship with us. God in His wisdom allows events and uses them for His good. He is patient with our own faults and uses them to teach us as we recover from them. These actually further the work of God in us.
At the end of Job’s story, the first thing Job confessed is vital to remember: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (Job:42:2). Job didn’t understand why God was permitting his trials, but he found answers in the end. He concluded that God never turns from his purpose. He is indeed the “perfecter of our faith.”
7. Believe in the Work God Is Doing
Do we recognize that there actually is a “work” being done within us? The world tells us that we really don’t matter to God. But each of our lives, minds and hearts are God’s workshop. He is busily looking at every thought, every reaction, every behavior and motive to see that it conforms to Jesus Christ. God is very concerned to get it perfect. So He spends a lot of time in the workshop.
The Bible explains it this way: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work within you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John:6:29). For the intensive work to be done in us, we must maintain faith in Jesus Christ. We should not doubt that He is “doing the work of God” in us. He can only do this with our agreement, cooperation and participation.
How relevant is His work to you? If you forget God while living in a godless world, the world will swallow you up. But the calling of God to fulfill his purpose in this age is the single greatest thing that has happened to any of us.
God’s intent toward you is unwavering. “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans:11:29). God’s calling is never cancelled, never rescinded. It is permanent. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers:23:19). It’s unimaginable that the certainty of God’s commitment should be minimized in the mind and hearts of those who are called, but sadly sometimes it is.
When He calls someone, His commitment is total. It is never a calling that is less than a full calling. It is never revoked. Let us confirm our commitment to God’s great purpose.