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Grace Notes

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A HEAVENLY CALLING
by Philip Owen

         In prior notes, we have observed that the believer’s call is “his calling” (Eph. 1:18), a description that brings to the fore the august and revered nature of our calling as from God.  Our call does not come at the behest of man but by the authority and will of God.  We also noted that the calling is a “holy calling” (II Tim. 1:9), that is, one that has a concrete impact on both our nature and how we conduct our lives.  The writer of Hebrews exhorts us, furthermore, to remember that we believers are “partakers of the heavenly calling” and, as a consequence, must “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus Christ” (Heb. 3:1).

            The denotation [“to mark out plainly”] of the heavenly calling.  Believers are by nature citizens of heaven, not of earth.  Our call comes from the realm of heaven and leads to the realm of heaven.  In the meantime, we are temporary residents of this place—“strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).

            A century ago, A. B. Davidson pointed out that, contrary to popular opinion, earth is the sphere of the “material, unreal, transient” whereas heaven is the realm of the “ideal, true, eternal.”  All that we view here is passing away; nothing of the material will survive into eternity.  Heaven is the place where perfect reality alone exists.

            To live with the perspective of time and for the objectives of this earth is to live with a perverted worldview and to pursue that which will evaporate with the end of our lives or the ending of time.  The vast majority of people in this world live with a goal no higher  than to get ahead, to acquire as much stuff and to enjoy as many experiences as possible, and, finally, to make themselves as secure as they can for their old age.  Christians are not to be oblivious to the necessity of surviving in this life and the need to live responsibly, but we have a different calling from that of unbelievers:  we have been made partakers of a heavenly calling; our ambitions and objectives are to go beyond the natural and the temporal.  We have been called to be ambassadors for Christ, to represent a heavenly country to an earthly people.  Our calling is to view the world and our experience from an eternal not a temporal perspective, from God’s rather than man’s eyes, and with His values not ours.

            The duty and privilege of the heavenly calling.  Incumbent on recipients of this heavenly calling is the blessed privilege and essential duty to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus Christ.”  Consider means “to perceive fully” or “to understand clearly.”  It is the privilege of believers to contemplate Christ and to get to know Him fully.  I say it is a privilege because of the infinite blessing attached to knowing God in and through the Person of the Son and because of the fact that only believers have such an opportunity.  The unbeliever can know Jesus Christ only in the sterile, remote sense in which they know any other ancient historical figure, but believers have the privilege of fellowshipping with Christ through the Word and by His Spirit.

            That Christ wants to make Himself known to us and will reward those who “consider” Him with a precious knowledge of His Person and the genuine experience of His Presence is a gift of infinite worth.  But this consideration of the Person of Christ is also an essential duty.  No amount of self-assessment and painstaking effort will enable a believer to faithfully fulfill his heavenly calling.  Neither will the most exacting attempt to understand and follow the principles of the Word suffice.  Christ is the Source and Substance of our faith.  He is the Power, Presence, and Personality of our life.  The best system of rules—even if extracted from the Word—that omits a focus on Christ will leave us cold and lifeless.  Our heavenly calling brings with it the duty and privilege of considering Christ.

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