“Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:” (Romans 1:6)
The Gospel was to be preached to all nations, Jew and Gentile. Paul said that he had been called to do this. That is, he had been given the Responsibility and the Authority – by God – to preach the Gospel of God. Paul was addressing this Gospel to the Church at Rome, and was saying that you also are included, as “the called of Jesus Christ.”
This statement reveals: God is no respecter of persons; God did have a Remnant out of Israel, or out of the Jews. See Romans 9:24-27; 11:1-7; especially Romans 11:5: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” The Day of Pentecost proved this – for Jews out of every nation were in Jerusalem, and literally thousands were converted that day and the days ahead. (See Acts 2.) In fact, the first church was made up of Jews. But there were also Gentiles in the church at Rome. So Paul was saying, even among you are both Jews and Gentiles, who are “the called” people of God.
Acts 13:46-48 proves also that those in the Body of Christ are in the Position of Grace as to their knowledge of such, because they were “called” of Jesus Christ. That is, God is the Cause and they are the effect. You cannot know of salvation in Christ until you are called by God and loosed by God. See John 6:44, 63-65; you must be quickened (made alive out of your dead position in sins and trespasses; John 6:63; Ephesians 2:1); given repentance (which is a gift; Acts 5:31); drawn by the Father to see Christ as Sacrifice, Substitute, and Savior (John 6:44, 45, 65).
Also see Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (The Greek word translated as “Word” is “rhēma” – the Spoken Word of God.) Christ must speak life to you. He must call you out of the grave of sin (John 6:63). See John 11:24-46; where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. See especially John 11:25, 43-44. Christ commanded Lazarus to come forth, and Lazarus did. But notice John 11:44 says Lazarus was bound hand and foot with grave clothes. So he had to float out; he could not walk being so bound; and then Jesus said (same verse), “Loose him, and let him go.” This is what the Gospel message does to a quickened sinner who has been given life – eyes to see, and ears to hear, spiritual things. The Gospel message teaches him of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection; of Justification; of Redemption in His Blood (Romans 3:24-25); and proclaims that in Christ we are free from sin’s penalty and punishment. This is Good News to a thirsty soul. Amen and Amen.
The calling (quickening), the teaching, the instructing, is that you are a sinner and need Christ’s Righteousness to be counted Justified in the eye of God. You need Someone to pay your sin debt. And Christ is that Payment for you. Hallelujah! And when, by God’s grace, you are revealed this Salvation in Christ and in Him alone, you are drawn by the Father to confess that Christ is your Savior (John 6:44-45).
Confession, or believing, is a result – not a requirement for God to act. His revelation of Christ as your Personal Sacrifice, Substitute, and Savior; this revelation is active on God’s part, but passive on your part. This is why it is grace and not works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 11:6; 4:16 – please read). This same sovereign Work of God is seen in (John 3:1-8). God is the cause of the New Birth, not man. (See especially John 3:8. Also see 1 Peter 1:21-25.) The Word is Christ. Therefore, Believing the Gospel is not the Requirement – but the Result of the Work of the Spirit in Regeneration (Titus 3:5; 1 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 2:9d; John 6:29; 1 Peter 1:21). How are we given the power to believe (or obey the Gospel)? It is the work of God (John 6:29; 1 Peter 1:21). “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29).
To Believe, or Obey, something or someone you must first have the ability to know, or perceive, or understand – Who, What, and Why. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: (Why not?) for they are foolishness unto him: (Why?) neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” See Matthew 16:13-17:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (14) And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. (15) He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? (16) And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (17) And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
Peter’s answer to Christ’s question, “But whom say ye that I am?” is found in Matthew 16:16, Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered and said, Matthew 16:17, “…flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Only God can reveal spiritual Truth, for He is The Truth. The key word here is reveal. See John 3:27, “…A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” The key phrase is “be given him” – it is a gift from God by revelation. See 1 Corinthians 4:7 – here Paul teaches that receiving is passive, not active: “For who maketh thee to differ from another? (or who distinguisheth thee?) and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” For the immediate context, study 1 Corinthians 4:1-6; 3:19-21. Paul said, “Therefore, let no man glory in men…” (1 Corinthians 3:21).
You see, God is the Creator, and “…in Him we live, and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28a). God makes us who we are, what we are, and where we are; even as Job said (Job 14:5), “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.” So receiving Christ is no different. If you are a flat rock, you cannot receive and retain water; but if you are a clay pot, you are formed by your Creator to receive and retain water. But the pot doesn’t go out and get the rain; the rain fills the pot. Nor does the pot make itself a pot, only the Potter can make the clay a pot to receive.
Receiving is passive in the sinner; but receiving can only be done after the heart is prepared by God to see (perceive, understand). And this is done by the quickening of the Holy Spirit; giving one a new heart, a new creation within. Then, and then only, can he see the Revelation of Christ, and His work as Sacrifice, Substitute, Savior, High Priest, and King of kings. (John 3:3), “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 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.
Objection to this passive receiving of the revelation of the Gospel:
Objection: 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 2:3; 4:17-22); it is 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 (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 the Seed of God in his heart – give him a new heart, a new desire, a new will (Jeremiah 17:14; 3:18-19; 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. (See John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5.) 1 John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” (See 1 John 4:9-10). See John 1:11-12-13, especially John 1:13, “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. See Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 13:21. Also see Ephesians 1:4-11-13; God elected, or chose, us in Him before the foundation of the world (Romans 8:29-30). See also Romans 5:8-11; accepting Christ is really an acknowledging of the revelation that Christ died for you and paid your sin debt. 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. 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 according to Isaiah 53:1-12. See Acts 8:36-37-39. See especially 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 what he had been revealed in Isaiah 53:1-12. That Jesus Christ was his own personal sin offering; that Jesus 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.) And see Luke 11:30: “For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” 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.
(Romans 1:7a) “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 Romans 1:6.
However in Romans 1:7, 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 ones 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 (see 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, an holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9).