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Mixed Signals, hearing or receiving, or becoming the Called

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Van, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Mar 4, 2011
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    The Biblical writers use similar or the same words for several different actions. Before we are saved, we listen to the gospel and hear the call. If we gladly receive the gospel and place our faith in Christ, we have received the call. When God accepts our faith and places us spiritually in Christ, we are then “the called.” After being baptized into the body of Christ, we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and gifted to serve Christ and His church. This giftedness and area of service is termed our call or Holy calling. One area of confusion in trying to unravel the difficulties surrounding Biblical Election is the misapplication of verses using call, called, and Holy calling. Called could be the past tense of call, but frequently means one who responded to the gospel. In another verse, called could be misapplied as one who gladly responded to the gospel, but actually the intended meaning was to refer to the Holy Spirit’s leading, following salvation, to apply oneself to an area of giftedness, to contribute our part to the faith, the church and its members.

    Therefore, passages using the terms must be carefully evaluated to avoid attributing post salvation calling with the pre-salvation call. One is clearly given by the Holy Spirit internally; the other, according to the Bible, is given by the Holy Spirit working through people externally. Some of the Election controversy is driven by these mixed signals.

    Lets look at some of the passages using these terms.

    Genesis 4:26 says, “And to Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” Looking back at verse 25, Adams wife, apparently Eve, when she gave birth to Seth said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” So from the beginning, people of God summoned and relied upon God’s grace and protection by “calling on the name of the Lord.” To call upon a name means to call upon the characteristics for which the person is known, e.g. His power and authority and compassion.

    Isaiah 43:1 says, “But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who has formed you O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine!” When God calls a nation, group or person by name, it is specific and establishes a relationship, a summons for service and blessing.

    Philippians 3:14 says, “I (Paul) press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” The prize of course is “that I may know Him (Jesus) and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”(Philippians 3:10-11).
    Paul not only has in view his call, when he was laid hold of by Jesus Christ, but his calling to service, so that he could lay hold of that for which he was called, a life of amazing service to his God.

    1 Peter 4:16 says, “But if anyone (suffers) as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name (the name of Christ) let him glorify God.” Here we see that the calling for service, including fellowship of His sufferings, not only applies to Paul, but also to Peter, which suggests the calling applies to all Christians. We are both called to glory (1 Thess. 2:12), and called into fellowship with Christ (1 Cor. 1:9).

    1 Corinthians 1:24 says, “but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Note that in this usage, the call from God is not in view, instead the “called” are those who responded to the message preached by Paul and accordingly God set them apart in Christ as “the called.”

    Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” In Romans 8:28 Paul again uses called to indicate those that not only received the gospel, but also were set apart by God.

    2 Timothy 1:9 says, “who saved us and called us with a Holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” The order of the phrases indicates that the calling was after salvation and therefore was the call by the leading of the indwelt Holy Spirit to be holy, conformed to the image of Christ, and to be ambassadors of Christ. Neither the salvation, nor the call to holiness was based on works, for God did not accept the sinners faith based on works, but on His understanding of the heart. Whoever believes in Jesus (according to God’s assessment) is set part (chosen) by being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. God’s purpose was and is to save all those in Christ, and He established this purpose before the foundation of the world, from all eternity. God accepts the blood of the Lamb as propitiation for our sins, after we have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, such that all those in Christ shall be saved. Figuratively once we are baptized into the body of Christ, we are covered with His blood, justified by grace.

    In summary, Peter says, “For you have been born anew, not of seed that is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of truth” (1 Peter 1:23). We are called by hearing the gospel, an external call, brought to us by the Holy Spirit working through individuals. James says much the same thing. “In the exercise of His will, He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18). We are brought forth by an external call, from hearing the word, according to the straightforward reading of the text. Does the preacher, then get the credit? No. Paul taught that although he planted (presented the seed, the gospel to non-believers) and another nurtured the potential convert (Apollos watered) it is God who saves, who chooses to cause the increase in the crop of born anew believers (1 Corinthians 3:6) brought forth as a new creation by the will and power of God.