“To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I sit down across the table from a young man who insists he has a ‘call’ on his life to bless the churches with his extra-ordinary spiritual gifts, which he is praying for, and “trying to learn how to get”. He has travelled across Canada because he felt a call to come to Nova Scotia to speak to the Pastors, and the churches of what God wants to give them through an extra-ordinary blessing. He has been staying in hostels and shelters or living out over the last several weeks.
“And those whom he predestined he also called, and to those whom he called he also justified, and those he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:30
How does the Gospel address the call of God and how are we to live this out in your life? Maybe this short adapted list from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology will help:
A Call Outside of Ourselves: The call of every believer is not something we can work up in ourselves. The choosing, wooing and winning of our very salvation begins and ends in the will and glory of God through the work of His Son, Jesus. The call of God is not something we do it is what only God can do.
A Call Out of Darkness: The call of every believer is God’s taking us “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).
A Call Into Relationship: The call of every believer is God’s placing us “into the fellowship of his Son”(1 Cor. 1:9, Acts 2:39)
A Call Into Kingdom living: The call of every believer is God’s placing us “into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12; 1 Pet. 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:3)
A Call of Belonging: The call of every believer places us in a relationship of “belonging to Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:6)
A Call to be set apart for God’s purposes: The call of every believer is a call to “be saints”
A Call to Live Out of the Riches of God: The call of every believer is to live in a fullness of “peace” (1 Cor. 7:15, Col, 3:15), “freedom” (Gal. 5:13), “hope” (Eph. 1:18), “holiness” (1 Thess. 4:7), “patient endurance of suffering” (1 Peter 2:20-21; 3:9), and “eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12)
SO what is the function of the Gospel in the call of every believer? O.K. I’ll admit it, I give myself too much credit. For what it’s worth, I know it’s foolish pride, lack of humility, fear of being dependent, need for control and my down right rebellious sinful nature! When caught in my pride I either try and discredit it, passing it off as personality, or pointing to societal influences, upbringing and culture. What this tells me? I am hopelessly unable to make the deeply needed changes that would make me anything more then a deeply self serving, self preserving, self interested, SELF. Self- esteem classes or self worth counseling does nothing for the various forms of my “ego-dei” (ego-god, I-god). I cannot “call” myself away from worshiping myself, even if I try to gloss it over with a ‘poor-me, I was wronged, the world, society and my family have messed me up.’ How does the Gospel of the cross move us beyond our need for self empowerment, or our self loathing to wholeness and a living out of a call beyond ego-dei?
It is so important to understand the ‘call’ of every believer comes not out of what spiritual gift you feel God has given you or that you hope He will give you. The call of every believer is far beyond the making of ourselves something greater than the sum of what our lives have become- no matter how successful or how wreaked that might look. Please don’t get me wrong, God gives us spiritual gifts, through his Holy Spirit, at the moment of salvation (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 12:11) I fear that we, church peeps, often hold these holy gifts up as a trophy for everyone to admire our greatness, as a measurement to determine who’s not ‘there’ yet, or as the complete sum of our spiritual life (call it a Corinthian church problem). The call of the Gospel is God’s work beyond our religious piety or self indulgent rut of addictions. The call of the Gospel is a call to the cross. Our response can only be a recognition that I am lost without Him resulting in a life of humble dependence on him. A daily posture of confession at the foot of the cross to live for His kingdom, not my own, and His glory, not my own. Out of this relationship of belonging solely to Jesus I replace my own agenda for His agenda and find peace, freedom, hope, holiness, patience to endure in suffering and indeed the riches of eternal life.
Here it is: THE CALL OF THE GOSPEL is not to do something for Jesus in your life, with the greatness of your giftedness, because you come from such a terrible place of sinfulness (most testimonies we seem to applaud are like this). The call of the Gospel is a daily going to the cross for all that I am, I have, and ever hope to be. At the cross- I die daily so that He might have His victory and glory in my life! If we focus on this daily reality of the Gospel applied in our life God will place the rest of living out his will right in front of us as He knows we can handle, and in accordance to how He has gifted us.