God may be calling you to become one of His children. How can you know for sure and what should you do about it?
[Gary] Kermit Tyler’s response to one telephone call changed the course of history.
A man operating a new technology called radar, telephoned Tyler’s workplace about a strange, massive blip on the screen. The switchboard operator told the caller that there was nothing he could do about it and no one else was in the office because it was a Sunday morning. It was then that the switchboard operator saw Lieutenant Tyler and told him about the radar blip.
Tyler knew that there was a flight of planes due to arrive at a nearby airfield. He went to the telephone and told the radar operator, “Well, don’t worry about it.”
The date: December 7, 1941. And the blip on the radar screen was the first wave of Japanese planes on their way to bomb the unsuspecting and unprepared naval base at Pearl Harbor .
Has your answer to a call, or not answering a call, ever affected your life? On Beyond Today we’re going to help you understand “God is Calling - Will You Answer?”
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[Gary] What if the world is headed towards collapse? What if we are approaching the age the Bible calls the tribulation? Now let me ask you this: How would you respond to a warning call telling you how to prepare for those times?
Jesus called the coming tribulation a time of “wars and rumors of wars,” “famines, pestilences and earthquakes…” (Matthew 24:6-7 Matthew 24:6-7 6 And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
American King James Version×). He predicted devastation and suffering on a global scale: “For there will be great tribulation, such as not has been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
American King James Version×).
Jesus went on to say, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved;” - Now listen - “…but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×). Jesus Christ isn’t returning to destroy the earth, but to save it. Now, He will save the world for the sake of the elect. That’s what He said. Jesus proclaimed that He would “gather the elect from the four winds…” meaning from all corners of the earth (Matthew 24:31 Matthew 24:31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
American King James Version×).
On Beyond Today we’re going to help you understand how God may be calling you to become one of the elect.
Now, the key to unlocking Jesus’ message is to understand what it means to be one of the elect. It simply means to be chosen by God. This choosing process begins when a person receives a “calling” from God. Now, that’s a very religious sounding term. I mean, what do I mean by, calling from God? What is that like?
Well, God’s calling is like a ringing telephone. You have no connection with the person who is doing the calling until you pick it up and answer it. Now unlike a ringing telephone, God’s calling works without any audible sounds. It is a ringing of something inside your conscience. At the core of your very being you begin to understand a need for a relationship with your Creator. You begin to experience a desire to answer the call.
In Jesus’ prophecy about the tribulation, He said that He would return to gather the elect from the four winds of the earth. In Revelation, we find another prophecy about those whom Christ gathers to Him at His return. These people are described as “…called, chosen and faithful…” (Revelation 17:14 Revelation 17:14These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
American King James Version×).
These kinds of people not only hear the call, but understand the importance of the call. God is calling people to become His children in this dark and dying world. When you understand and answer God’s calling, you must surrender your life to Him for His purpose. So here is the question: When you are willing to give up your stubbornness, your selfishness, your need to control, your need to self-medicate, and allow God to run your life? Because only then will God choose you to be one of His elect.
Called. Chosen. Faithful. Now to be faithful involves producing the life-fruit of authentic Christianity. It involves being true to your calling as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
There’s an old fable about two city-born brothers who decided to take a trip to the country. They were shocked to find farmers throwing perfectly good wheat into empty, plowed fields. The brothers decided that farmers were wasteful at best, maybe even a little crazy.
One brother returned to the city while the second one stayed to explore the strange ways of country folk. That autumn the city brother received a letter. The brother who stayed in the country raved about how the individual seeds from the wheat sown in the spring produced endless fields of stalks with each stalk containing many kernels of wheat. The farmers, who had sown the seeds, then tended the fields, were now reaping the fruits of their labors.
What seemed like lunacy in the spring was producing something amazing in the autumn. This story contains an important spiritual lesson: God sows His seeds because He wants to produce spiritual fruit in your life. This fruit requires that you respond to God’s calling and remain faithful to His calling.
To remain faithful to God you must believe in Him and in the Bible as His Word. And you know, this belief must grow into trust. And this trust must lead to obedience to the Word. Life-changing faith is more than simple belief.
Let me give you an example. Can you imagine a cheating husband claiming that his wife should accept his fooling around? Then, he backs up his command by saying that his belief in her is proof of his faithfulness in spite of his actions? That’s absurd! But isn’t that how many people treat God? Acceptance of God’s existence can’t turn unfaithful actions into faithful actions. Just believing in His existence doesn’t make you faithful.
Being faithful to God means to trust in His love, His goodness and His wisdom so much that you are willing to follow His instructions even when you don’t understand, or when obedience is uncomfortable. Faithfulness involves sacrifice; pain; and commitment in the face of fear, trials, and even opposition from others.
Now here’s what you must do if you want to be one of the elect of God. It’s time for you to be undertaking prayerful study of the teachings of Jesus Christ contained in the Gospels and then compare His teachings to the teachings of your church and to the present fruits of your life! Ask God to open your mind to understand His calling.
As you begin to study the real teachings of Jesus Christ you will discover instructions that affect every aspect of your life. Authentic Christianity isn’t a set of suggestions or nice sayings about love - that’s what a lot of people think. Real Christianity are commands from God explaining how love works. When you discover a command then you need to immediately step out in obedience.
Jesus said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10 Luke 16:10He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
American King James Version×).
Now think about this. How many times have you made a resolution to start a diet, or pray more often, or be a better husband? And you’ll begin this transformation - tomorrow.
Faithfulness isn’t something you begin tomorrow. It would be like saying, “I’ll be faithless towards God today, but when I get up in the morning I’ll decide to be an authentic Christian.” The next day of course you decide to wait until tomorrow.
You see, if God says to stop dishonest business practices, don’t excuse yourself with the bogus argument that “well you know, business is business” - today, step out in faith and obey! If God says to stop having sex out of marriage, don’t excuse yourself with “well my boyfriend might leave me” - today, step out in faith and obey! If you realize that God wants you to not use His name in profanity - then today, right now, step out in faith and obey.
Now if you want to answer God’s call what should you do? First get on your knees and ask God to convict you of your spiritual poverty - your need. Pick up the Bible and begin to read the Word. And then order your free copy of Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion .
You know the first chapter of this study guide is “Who are God’s ‘Called, Chosen and Faithful’ People ?” This is what we’re talking about today and you need this study guide.
To order Transforming Your Life call: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632.
We can learn about how God’s calling works from something Jesus taught called the parable of the sower. Jesus told the story of a farmer who was sowing grain. Now in first century Judea, farmers would walk through a prepared field throwing wheat onto the soil so that it would be absorbed, germinate and then of course, grow into stalks.
Jesus described how some seeds fell by the wayside or birds came and ate it. Some seeds fell on stony ground and couldn’t sprout or they began to, but couldn’t then mature because there was no depth to the roots. Some seeds took root, but thorns grew up and the wheat died. Others fell on good ground and grew into healthy stalks.
Now the seed in this parable - if we want to understand what it means we need to know this - the seed in this parable represents the word of God and spreading the seed is His calling. Now the four different types of soil represent four different ways people respond to God’s calling.
Oh I know, okay. How does this 2,000-year-old parable apply directly to your relationship with God? Well, to answer that question you need to ask yourself a question: Which of these four responses is the way I have been responding to God?
Today, we are dealing with some very difficult aspects of authentic Christianity. In this parable Jesus taught that not everyone who hears the word of God will be a true follower of that word. Shockingly, this parable also teaches that not everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus will be one of the elect - called, chosen and faithful.
Now when you are confronted by the parable of the sower, Christ requires you to examine the authenticity of your Christianity.
How is the seed of God’s growing, or not growing, in your life personally today?
Well let’s look at the first response mentioned by Jesus, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside” (Matthew 13:19 Matthew 13:19When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
American King James Version×).
Is Jesus describing you? Is your response to God’s call, “I know God exists and one of these days I’ll get my life straightened out, but I’m just so busy”? Or, “Jesus loves me so He really doesn’t care about my lifestyle. I mean all I have to do is believe.”
I want you to think about something, it is the evil one, or Satan, who convinces people to reject God’s calling by taking it lightly. Authentic Christianity is more than a hollow profession without a corresponding change in lifestyle. Otherwise, you turn the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, into a cheap pass that somehow allows you to continue following Satan as the god of this world while receiving salvation from the true God. Think about how absurd that is. What you are really saying is “As long as I believe in God and accept Jesus, I can live as Satan wants me to live, and God says it’s okay.”
In this parable we find, according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, that kind of cheap grace is not okay with God. God’s calling requires you to respond. God is calling you to abandon the empty pursuit of immediate gratification for a better life as one of His elect.
I know. Many will listen to this message, turn it off and forget. Are you one of those people? I urge you not to ignore God’s calling!
How many excuses do you give in order to keep the seed of God from growing in your life?
In the parable of the sower, Jesus continued, “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Matthew 13:20-21 Matthew 13:20-21 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;
21 Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended.
American King James Version×).
Now some people hear God’s calling. They like going to church and making friends, but when answering that call requires following in Christ’s footsteps; when it means overcoming sin; when it means being out of step with family or friends; they give up.
Do you dabble in the Bible, but your actions and attitudes reflect little of what the Bible teaches? When you actually have to live your faith, instead of just professing it, do you crumble like a house of cards?
I understand that these are hard words to hear. Many religious programs contain a message that “God accepts you just the way you are. Believe in Jesus and He will do everything for you.” That isn’t what Jesus taught. In the parable of the sower, He taught that it is God who plants the seed, but it is the type of soil that allows the seed to germinate and grow. What kind of soil are you?
What is so important to you that it is worth a half-hearted, uninspired, uncommitted, unfaithful response to a call from the Almighty Creator God?
Now the third kind of response is symbolized by seeds choked by thorns. Jesus taught, “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22 Matthew 13:22He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
American King James Version×).
You see there are people who answer God’s calling, only to become side tracked with money, status or the old adage that he who wins is he who has the most stuff in the end. Are you one of the people who play church and pretend to be a true follower of Jesus, but your daily priorities reflect nothing more than a concern with my needs and my wants instead of a life of outgoing concern for others? Is your spiritual life being choked by the thorns of society around you?
You know something, at this point I hope you’re beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable. You see a real encounter with the Word of the Almighty God is supposed to make us uncomfortable. The person on the other end of the calling is the Creator of the universe.
Now if you want to be an authentic Christian, one of God’s elect, then you need to examine your Christian concepts and practices. Do they stand up to the teachings of Jesus Christ? Do they stand up to the parable of the sower?
Jesus taught that many will respond to His word, and that the word won’t grow in their lives, in their hearts, in their minds, in their lifestyles. If you want your life to be more than bad soil where the seed of God’s word is wasted, then you need to do some serious examination of your assumptions about Christianity and how those ideas stack up against the teachings of the Founder of Christianity.
In His parable, it is the fourth type of response Jesus commends. This is who you want to be: “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23 Matthew 13:23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred times, some sixty, some thirty.
American King James Version×).
These types of people respond to their calling. They are chosen by God and they step out and live by faith. They do something about it. Their calling is more than just feelings and a religious experience. It is a transformation of mind and heart, motivations and actions.
No health and wealth gospel today, no touch your TV and feel His power, no call this number to buy a cross to show God your love. Our message is about how God wants to transform your life through the process of conversion. He wants to plant seeds, tend those seeds and produce fruit. The choice to respond to His calling, it’s up to you.
Now today, we’re offering two free gifts that can help you study how to become one of God’s elect. The first of course is the study guide, Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion . The second is a subscription to The Good News magazine .
Six times a year you will receive articles on how God’s word can bear fruit in your life. You’ll learn how the annual Holy Days of the Old Testament apply to Christian’s today. And every issue contains messages on how you can answer God’s call.
Call right now, it’s free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632.
Of course, you can read Transforming Your Life and The Good News magazine online, right away, by just going to BeyondToday.tv .
Well we’re joined by fellow Beyond Today hosts: Darris McNeely and Steve Myers. The parable of the sower is often a misunderstood, or even misapplied teaching of Jesus, isn’t it?
[Darris] Probably one of the most because of what it says. People focus on, sometimes, the sowing of the seed. They miss really the biggest point there, Gary and that is in Christ’s instruction about what the parable means, He focuses upon what people hear and how they hear. And you touched on that. It is in that hearing - depends upon a person’s response and how deep that sown seed then takes root and germinates in their life. And without that then you really don’t have a complete understanding of what that parable’s talking about.
[Steve] I wonder if Jesus used a little bit of humor in that telling of the story because at the end He says, listen if you have ears, and we all have ears! (Matthew 13:9 Matthew 13:9Who has ears to hear, let him hear.
American King James Version×) But are we really understanding the main point of what He is saying? If we’ve got ears we better be looking for what the real depth of the meaning of what the story is all about. And I think that’s the challenge. With all the various areas where that seed was falling, which category do we fall into? And if we’ve got ears we’ve got to look at ourselves and realize there is something deep behind the meaning of this story.
People have to not only hear that word but they have got to apply it to themselves, and I think that’s the big challenge. You hear this, you compare this word that you are listening to to what Christ actually taught and you can see how those things blend together - how they are the same thing. And as you hear that you compare other things that you may hear, other values in society. If they don’t match up to what your Bible is saying, then you’ve got to reject those things.
And so you’ve got to let the good seed grow and accomplish the task that it was set out to do. Otherwise, you’re going to be by the wayside and you’ll miss out.
[Gary] You know I just, I wonder how many of you out there have been flipping the dial and you’ve watched an infomercial, and you’ve watched a black and white movie as you go through and all of a sudden you stop here. Well maybe you are here because God is calling you. Just something to think about.
Now we talked about this calling from God. Jesus said He is coming back for the elect. How does a person become a member of the elect?
[Darris] Through a calling from God. The biblical term, the elect, really refers to, in the Old Testament, Israel - a chosen nation, descendants of Abraham. And they were then in a status of being chosen by God and called the elect. That’s changed in the New Testament and in the Church because the elect is still a term that is used but it is referring to those that God has called-out and to become a part of the spiritual body of the Church.
And that category of elect is a very important category of people in the Bible. But it refers to a group of people who are called of God and who elect then to respond to that call in faith and confidence of the message. And apply it in their lives and then see that it works.
[Steve] Yeah I think there is a couple of different aspects when you think about it. You look at the graphic for today’s program. It shows the telephone. The elect have answered the phone. God was calling. You answered it. Now what are you going to do once you’ve picked up that phone? Are you going to listen to God? Are we going to respond to what He says? Are we going to put it on hold? Are we going to put it aside? What are we going to do with that? And I think if we are going to answer that call and respond and be the elect, then we’ve got to make sure we fulfill the responsibilities of what that phone call is all about. And so I think that’s an important part.
[Darris] And that involves the choice that a person has to respond to the message that is in front of them.
[Gary] You mentioned about the covenant God had with ancient Israel and they were His elect. To become elect in the New Testament as part of the body of Christ - the Church, you actually make a covenant with or God makes a covenant with you! So if a person is called, they answer that calling, when they are chosen they enter into a covenant. This is why some people say, well I know God chose me, and it’s just sort of this independent person making up their own religion. No, to enter into a covenant: You have to be called. You have to be chosen. You have to go through baptism. You have to receive God’s Spirit. There’s a whole lot of what the New Testament teaches about the covenant. I think that’s a very important point. If you are chosen you now become part of a covenant people.
Now, in Revelation it says there is, talking about the same kind of people. When Jesus comes back, it says they do three things. They are called. They’re chosen. They’re faithful. How are we to be faithful?
[Darris] By doing something. By listening, hearing, and hearing with a heart that responds. To be faithful requires a response in doing something with the knowledge that is in front of you. And that’s the key difference I think as our listeners listen to us each week. They take our publications and read through our literature. They come to an understanding that there is a choice there.
And you can’t, in a sense, move to that faithful category until you make a choice, and you obey and you do something about what you have heard. And when you do that, you will then enter into another category, in a sense, that you will find out what God can do and how God’s way does work to create a successful, abundant life.
[Steve] I think if you stick with the metaphor of that phone call again, the apostle James put it a little bit differently. He said it’s not the hearers that are justified but the doers (James 1:22 James 1:22But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
American King James Version×). So you not only have to answer that phone, but then you’ve got to listen to what God’s word is and now you’ve got to put it into practice in your life. And so you’ve got to do it.
And so many times throughout the New Testament it tells us very clearly those things that we’re supposed to do. The kind of character we are supposed to put on. Having the mind of Christ - that should be reflected in what we do and how we act and the things that we say. It should be reflected in all the things that compose our life. And if it doesn’t, we better listen to that call a little bit more carefully and begin to actually put those things into practice.
[Gary] And it’s what Jesus meant when He said these kinds of people would produce fruit.
Remember the two free offers we’re telling you about today. The study guide, Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion and a subscription to The Good News magazine. Both are available for you to read or download from the Web on BeyondToday.tv. To have them delivered right to your mailbox call: 1-888-886-8632. Remember this number: 1-888-886-8632.
Year by year, month by month, day by day the world is headed towards the tribulation and return of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to face life without hope or purpose. You can change your life now with God’s help and prepare spiritually for what is to come.
God is offering you salvation! Will you answer the call, be chosen and remain faithful? Will you surrender to God and allow Him to produce thirty, sixty and a hundredfold in your life?
I’ll be back right after this:
[Narrator] “You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for generations to come” (Exodus 31:13 Exodus 31:13Speak you also to the children of Israel, saying, Truly my sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the LORD that does sanctify you.
American King James Version×).
The Sabbath is a key to the Kingdom of God. The New Testament book of Hebrews says, “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”
Jesus and His followers kept the Sabbath and they still do today. God commands us to pause and reflect on His way of life. Take a break from the fast paced action of this world. Experience a rejuvenation of the mind and grow closer to Him. Join us as we explore the Sabbath and show how it is a key to the Kingdom of God.
The United Church of God is hosting free Kingdom of God Bible Seminars held around the world. Go to KOGSeminars.org to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars - giving the message of hope for tomorrow - beginning today!
[Gary] Join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. We also invite you to join us in constantly praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !