The Authority of the Call
(Romans 1:6) “Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:”
The question that remains for you the reader is, Have You Been Called By God? You say, How do I know if I have been called of God? The answer is simple, (1 Jn. 5:20), “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
Do you possess this “understanding”? If you do, then you know (by experience) that your salvation “is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9), and not of yourself. You know that you are a temple of God; and being so, you are not your own; you belong to God in body, soul, and spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20); and therefore, you are to glorify God in your body and in your spirit; and this is your utmost desire every second of the day. If you possess this “understanding”; then, you have the Assurance that you are a child of God; Christ in you, the Hope of Glory.
The primary focus of this devotion is “The Proof” of the Call. In previous devotions; the Agent (or the Person) of the call is Jesus Christ; the Applicator (or the Power) of the Call is the Holy Spirit; the Assurance (or the Platform) of the call is the Eternal Purpose of God; and now the Authority (or the Proof) of the call is the fruit of Holiness manifested in the believer.
However, if you do not possess this “understanding,” then, either:
(1) You have never been “called” by God from spiritual death to spiritual life; or
(2) You are deceived in thinking that you are born from above and are not; or
(3) You are a hypocrite having your name listed among the children of God and you know you are not. However, (1Jn. 3:24; 4:13, 15) says, that if the Spirit dwell in you then you know that you are a child of God; with no doubts; for: (1) you believe that Jesus is God in the flesh; 2) you love the brethren; and (3) you keep the commandments of God; that is that you Love God and the brethren (Jn. 14:15; Matt. 22:37-40); or
(4) You may have been quickened by Christ; and are in the drawing process to God, having repentance worked in you; and are being brought to acknowledging that you are a sinner, under the curse of the law; and are coming to confess Christ as your Savior; but have not at the present time.
The truth of the matter is, if you don’t have an “understanding” of (1 Jn. 5:20), then you fit into one of the above categories (either you have never been called by God; or you are deceived; or you are a hypocrite; or you are being brought to confess Christ as Sacrifice for the sin debt, the Substitute for you in taking your punishment for your sin debt to God; and are coming to confess Christ as your Savior). You are in one of these four categories if you do not have the “understanding” of (1 Jn. 5:20).
Some are critical of the view that God is presented completely Sovereign in the Salvation of His people from start to finish. They say that this view makes man a robot and takes away man’s free will. To settle this debate, note the following;
(1) Let the Apostle Paul, who was called Saul, relate his experience of his conversion as recorded in (Acts 9:1-17). No evidence is found that Saul requested God for conversion; but rather the contrary are the facts. Saul was changed from a man going to commit murder of Christians – to a man blinded by God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and revealed God’s purpose for Paul from that point forward. All this was done to him not by his request, but solely upon God’s actions toward him.
(2) Examine your own conversion to Christ. Did God seek you first or did you seek God first? If you say that you sought God first; ask yourself, what prompted you to seek out God, and to become sick of your sin; what caused you to turn from your old way of life, and to turn your entire focus to please Christ instead of self?
(3) If your conversion began with you; are you satisfied that you are able to keep your salvation in your own power? (a) If your conversion originated in your mind, without God’s intervention; either you don’t believe that you were born spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, and thus incapable of giving yourself life; or you believe you have the power to raise the spiritually dead to spiritual life. (b) Or you believe that God quickened you; granted you repentance for your sins; and brought you to see Christ is your Sacrifice, Substitute, and Savior – yet, you have the power to say: No God, I reject Your Salvation, God. I nullify the Eternal Plan and Purpose of God for Salvation of those chosen in Christ before the world began. I nullify the Atonement made by Christ for the sin debt of those chosen in Christ. And I have the power to reject the effectual Call of Christ, and to turn back the life given to in regeneration; for I have the power as God; for I can say no to God. This is in essence saying to God: Your choice of me in Christ before time began; the Atonement of Christ for me on the Cross; and the giving me eternal life by Christ in the Call is a lie – for if it were truth, I could not say no to the work of Grace in my spirit.
Remember the Lord opened up Lydia’s heart (Acts 16:14). Lydia did not, and could not, open up her own heart to God – only God can open the heart. But, then comes the Objection to this passive receiving (1 Cor. 4:7) of the revelation of the Gospel. The Objection is: Then where is man’s free will to choose Christ or to reject Christ? Answer: The answer is in man’s nature. Man’s will issues from his nature. The old sin nature (which we are born with) wills, or chooses, to sin (Ephesians 2:2-3; 4:17-22); called the “old man” (Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:5-9). The old sin nature is dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1), and chooses to sin (see Jeremiah 17:9; Ecclesiastes 8:11c). Whereas the new man, the new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:23-33; Colossians 3:10-), the new man is a new creature in Christ; and the love of God is shed abroad in him (Romans 5:5); and so he chooses to serve Christ.
Question: Who changes a man’s nature? Answer: Only God (see Jeremiah 13:23a) “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” Only God can regenerate a sinner and place Himself in the quickened sinner’s heart – give him a new heart, a new desire, a new will (Jeremiah 17:14; 3:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:17; 2 Timothy 1:9). Not based on man’s movement to God, but only because of God’s movement to the sinner; for the sinner is spiritually dead in sins and trespasses, until God calls (or quickens) the dead sinner to life (Eph. 2:1; John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5). (1 John 4:19) “We love him, because he first loved us.” (See verses 9 & 10.) See also John 1:11-12-13, especially verse 13, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
The choice of man’s will is lodged in his nature. Until he is given a new nature, God’s nature; man chooses to sin and please himself. Also see Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 13:21. See Ephesians 1:4-11-13, God elected, or chose, us (God did not chose a “Plan” in Christ that makes salvation possible; but God chose “us”; people to salvation) in Him before the foundation of the world (Romans 8:29-30) (Eternal Justification). (See also Romans 5:8-11.) Accepting Christ is not a Scriptural doctrine; but rather is an invention of the modern preacher. The Scriptural phrase is, “unto all and upon all them that believe” (Romans 3:22); “to them that believe” (Gal. 3:22); “believed in” (Jn. 2:23; 3:18); “believed on” (Acts 11:17; 1 Tim 3:16); “believe in” (Rom. 10:14); “as many as received him” (Jn. 1:12).
The term “accepting” to most people means: When I get ready to accept Christ… (As if the man is doing his part.) However, it is a “receiving” (passive); or it is really an acknowledging of the revelation that Christ died for you and paid your sin debt; which is worked in the sinner when he is quickened, and granted repentance for his sin, and comes to see that Christ is his Sacrifice, Substitute, and Savior, and confesses the same in word and deed. It is a confession of this revelation to you. This revelation of your Salvation in Christ – it is not whether you want it or not – it is that you now have it, you have been given this revelation by God, and now you will confess Him as Savior. Because you now understand you are His child, and your desire is to please Christ and not the flesh; because you have been given a New Nature, “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24b). This process is called Regeneration by the Holy Spirit. You stand forgiven; and now are freed from the curse of the law, from the sting of sin, from eternal death. You now love God; you now want to serve God, and be His bond slave. So it is not even a decision to be made. You have been given this knowledge in Regeneration by the Spirit of God. Read Acts 8:26-39 and see what choice (or action) the Ethiopian made, once he was revealed that it was Jesus that Philip preached to him according to (Isaiah 53:1-12). Philip preached to the Ethiopian that Jesus Christ was The Suffering Servant; Whose soul was made an Offering for Sin; in Whom God was satisfied.(Acts 8:36-37):
“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
The order was: Went to Jerusalem to worship. Returning home, reading Isaiah 53:1-12, Philip preached Jesus to him (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21, 24). Then in verses 36-37 (shown above), the Ethiopian confessed (believed) what he had been revealed in (Isaiah 53:1-12); that Jesus Christ was his own personal sin offering; that He was his Substitute and Savior. And the Ethiopian was baptized as a witness of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21). Yes, he was saying: “God has revealed to me that Jesus did it all for me. Yes, I was included in His death, burial, and resurrection. Now I want to confess this by water baptism” (1 Peter 3:21).
This is why Jonah the prophet said (Jonah 2:9), “…Salvation is of the LORD.” Jonah was in the fish’s belly. No way out, “But God.” “But God” (see Ephesians 2:1-4, especially verse 4b) raised Jonah from death. “But God” made the fish to vomit: “And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (Jonah 2:9). (Or else Jonah would have stayed in the fish until digested and excreted.) Please read (Jonah 1:17; 2:1-10), and you will see Jonah is a type of Christ dying for us. “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). (Also read Matthew 16:4.) “For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation” (Luke 11:30). The sign was of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus to the Ninevites. They saw it, and repented of their sins, and believed the Gospel of God (Luke 11:32). And Jonah had a greater revelation of this himself in his fish experience. Jonah is also a type of the dead sinner brought to spiritual life by the spoken Word of God.
The key word is “believed” on Jesus Christ. What did they believe? That Jesus Christ was God in the flesh; the Messiah of the Old Testament; that He was the chosen’s Sacrifice, Substitute and Savior; and they came to believe (or trust) the testimony of Who Jesus Christ was in the flesh; and they came to trust What Jesus Christ did for His people on the Cross. A man cannot believe or trust that which he does not know for sure. For a man to believe the testimony of Jesus Christ, he must be raised from his spiritual condition of being dead in trespasses and sins. To be raised, he must be Called by Christ – or quickened, or made alive from his dead spiritual condition; and only God has life in Himself and only God can give life and God gives Eternal Life at His discretion (Jn.3:8). Man does not, nor can he, dictate to God. It is God that dictates to man. Therefore, to believe, or to receive, is the Result of God’s Action upon the spiritually dead sinner; and not vice versa. To believe, or to trust, the Word of God, you must be given revelation by God to know who the Speaker is (Matt. 16:17), and the Speaker’s words must be the Word of God; for the Word of God is the only Complete truth there is and God is Truth.
Verse 7a: “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints”
Not to all without exception, but to all that were called to be saints (or holy people); they are the “beloved of God.” This verse supports verse 6.
However, Paul adds the called of Jesus Christ are also “called to be saints.” The Greek word for saints is “ἁγίοις,” English spelling is “hagios” (holy ones), or called to a holy walk. This word basically means “separated.” In Scripture, it is speaking of being separated from sin, and therefore consecrated to God; God is the Holy One, in His Purity, Majesty and Glory (1 Peter 1:15). It is also used of men and things as they are devoted to God. “…Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Here God demands the conduct of the beloved to be pure, separated from this world. These ones are called “saints.”
Believers are called by God to this position in Grace, and are called to be holy in all manner of behavior; a holy walk. But (in 2 Timothy 1:9) believers are called to sanctify themselves, cleansing themselves from all defilement, forsaking sin, living a “holy” manner of life (1 Peter 1:15; 2 Peter 3:11), and experiencing fellowship with God in His Holiness. Thus saints, believers, are called “a holy temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17) individually, and collectively as a church (Ephesians 2:21), a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). The Apostle Paul wrote in (Heb. 12:14) “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Therefore, here is the Proof of the Call of God. Those that are holy people (or separated people) are separated from what? The answer is, separated from the ways of unrighteousness; but separated to holiness (that is, walking even as Christ walked (1 Jn. 2:6); or imitating Christ in spirit and soul and body). If there is no fruit of holiness in the life and walk of the so-called believer; then you have not received the Effectual Call of God unto Salvation; “without which no man shall see the Lord.” But, if the so-called believer does bear the fruit of Holiness; it is a definite Proof of his Effectual Call of God unto Salvation. Holiness in the life and walk of the believer reveals the Authority (or that the call of the sinner is Jesus Christ; Who is Holy Himself) of the Call.