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Grace Notes

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HIS CALLING
by Philip Owen

             Scripture consistently and repeated teaches that God calls, or invites, sinners to salvation, an invitation that includes deliverance from sin and its consequences, the imparting of eternal life, the privileges of sonship, and the responsibilities of holy living and faithful service.  Few scriptural truths are more laden with both privilege and responsibility than that concerning the doctrine of the calling of the believer.  It is not our purpose in these or the following paragraphs to enter into the theological controversy between Arminians and Hyper-Calvinists over the nature of God’s general and effectual calling but only to examine in a devotional way, and from the perspective of those who have believed, some of what Scripture teaches concerning this blessed calling.  In so doing, I can think of no more precious place to begin than with the origination of our calling:  it is “his calling.”  Such is the reality of this calling that one of Paul’s prayers for the blessed church at Ephesus was that the “eyes” of their “understanding” might be “enlightened” enabling them to “know what is the hope* of his calling” (Eph. 1:18).

            Comes by authority.  This invitation comes from the highest level.  It is not issued by some king or president, by an ecclesiastical body, nor even on the authority of an angel.  None other than God Himself issues the invitation.  To the believers in Rome and in a broader context, Paul refers to the invitation as the “calling of God” (Rom. 11:29); earlier in the same letter, he refers to the saints as “the called of Jesus Christ” (1:6).  In short, it is the very Godhead who issues the invitation.  It is an invitation that is not to be rejected.  When the British crown invites a musician to play for the palace, we call such an invitation a “command performance”:  it is an invitation that brooks no rejection.  Such is the nature of the invitation to the believer to leave the bondage of his sin and enter the realm of liberty in righteousness.  He must accept the invitation of his own volition, but assuredly He will.

            Comes at the expense of the Inviter.  Sometimes we are invited to a potluck meal at someone’s home where we are expected to provide one of the dishes, or we are invited to “go Dutch” at a restaurant and pay our own tab while dining out with friends. Most invitations we receive place the cost of the invitation exclusively upon the one issuing the invitation.  But even in the examples cited above, the greater burden to host falls upon the shoulders of the one issuing the invitation.  So it is with our calling.  Whatever the nature of the blessings to which we have been invited, our Heavenly Host is God, and the price of our fellowship and its attendant privileges have been paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ.  This invitation is not without expense.  Unlike the creation of the universe and all it contains, which cost God absolutely nothing, redemption cost an infinite price:  God poured out the wrath that sinners deserve upon His Beloved Son, and the Son bore that wrath, the wrath of hell, along with the physical suffering of crucifixion at the hands of wicked men.

            Comes with privilege.  That this calling is “his calling” guarantees that the invitation comes with privilege.  The angels marvel at (“desire to look into” [I Pet. 1:12]) the blessings that God has chosen to bestow on such lowly, sinful creatures.  Never in all of history has anyone been granted such privileges.  We sometimes speak of the change for Abraham Lincoln from a log cabin to the White House.  But that change pales in comparison with the transformation of a sinner to a saint and of a son of sin to a son of God.  The riches of righteousness and all the goodness of God are enclosed in this blessed invitation. 

*To be addressed in a future “Grace Note.” 

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