Stage 1

The Call

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.
God has a plan for the life of every believer. Not only does His call involve a wonderful purpose for us throughout eternity, but we also have an expression of that call upon the earth now. The Bible says that God has called us...

From the foundation of the world

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will" Ephesians 1:4-5 (see also 2:10; Matthew 25:34).

To be separated unto Him

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" 1 Peter 2:9.

To fulfill His purpose

"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace." 2 Timothy 1:8-9 (see also Romans 8:28; Philippians 3:14).

Our Call on Earth

"Paul, a servant (slave) of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God" Romans 1:1.
In describing his own ministry, Paul gives us an example of the call that is upon every believer. It has three aspects:

The General Calling

"A slave of Christ" - Jesus paid a high price to bring us back to the Father. The price was His own life.
"For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave. You were bought at a price." 1 Corinthians 7:22-23 (see also 6:19-20).
When Paul calls himself a slave of Jesus Christ, he is pointing to an even deeper meaning. According to the custom of his day, if a slave came to the time when he could be set free, but because of love for his master chose not to accept his freedom, he then received a mark pierced in his ear. This was a sign that he was a "love-slave" to his master for life (see Ex.21:6; Deut.15:16-17). The apostle Paul, by his own choice, declared himself a love-slave of the Lord Jesus (read Psalm 40:6-7).

The Special Calling

"Called to be an apostle" - Just as Paul had a special calling upon his life, so does every believer. Paul was called to be an apostle, but there are many different callings in the Body of Christ (Rom.12:3-8; Eph.4:7-16). The special part that God has for us to play will be revealed to us as we seek to do His will.

The Particular Calling

"Separated to the Gospel" - Within each special calling there is a particular expression which is unique to each individual believer. For example, Peter and Paul were both apostles, but one was an apostle to the Jews and the other to the Gentiles (see Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 2:7; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

We only move into our special and particular calling as we prove ourselves as "love slaves," for we must first learn to be wholly under the authority of Christ before we can be sent by Him (see Matthew 28:18-19).

Why Does God Call?

Because the world is in darkness

" We know that we ourselves are children of God, and we also know that the world around us is under the power of the evil one" 1 John 5:19 (Phillips) (see also Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:13).

Because people are in need

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" Matt.9:36.
To prove His wisdom
"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known." Ephesians 3:10-11

Because the time is short

"Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest" John 4:35 (see also 9:4).

How Are We Called?

When God's call comes to our lives, His grace begins to shape us into a vessel that can be used for His purposes (Isaiah 49:2; 2 Timothy 2:20-21). This preparation comes in three stages: Whenever God calls us, however, He always provides the grace to accomplish what He calls us to do (1 Cor.15:10).

Responding to the Call

"For many are called, but few are chosen" Matthew 22:14.
The call of God is wide and all-inclusive. He does not just call a select few, but He calls "many." This call is expressed on two distinct levels:

The call to salvation

The first expression of God's call to our lives is to return to Him. This call has gone out to every single person on the face of the earth - "the many" (Romans 10:14,18). But only those who respond to that call - "the few" - are chosen.

The call to the purpose

Only once we have responded to the first call - to salvation -can we respond to the second call - to God's purpose (Ephesians 1:11-12; Romans 8:28). Like the first call, the second call is wide and inclusive. This call goes out to all those who have responded to the first call - "the many" - but likewise, it is only those who respond to that second call - "the few" - who are actually chosen by God for involvement in His purposes. Which group will you belong to?


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