The Call of God

To what has God called us?  Holiness!

I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.
Matthew 9:13

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus…to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints (holy ones).
Romans 1:1,7

Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints (holy ones) by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours…
1 Corinthians 1:1-2

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit (i.e., being made holy by the Spirit) and faith in the truth.  And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.
Hebrews 3:1

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:14-16

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13

For this is the will of God, your sanctification (being made holy); that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.  Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.  (The Holy Spirit always leads us in holiness, and it is only those who are led by the Spirit of God who are sons of God, Rom 8:14.)
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called (i.e., walk in holiness).
Ephesians 4:1

The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints (holy ones) on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.  To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling (i.e., that God may find you holy as He has called you to be holy), and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power; in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-12

How are we to be holy?

I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of your Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned up.
John 15: 1-6

By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked.
1 John 2:5-6

On the one hand, God’s call is entirely the result of His grace and there is nothing we can add to or subtract from it:

[God] has saved us, and called us with a holy calling (NIV = called us to a holy life), not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.  (But notice carefully that grace is not contrary to holiness; indeed, true grace always leads us in holiness.  Confer Titus 2:11-14.)
2 Timothy 1:9

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.  For whom he foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these he also justified; and whom he justified, these He also glorified.
Romans 8:28-30

Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God
1 Corinthians 1:1

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Romans 11:29

Let us be careful, though, to not take only one part of the Bible and build a doctrine upon that which tickles our ears to the exclusion of the rest of Scripture.  For on the other hand the Bible also teaches that God’s election and calling in no way negate the responsibilities of men for the salvation of their souls:

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence (clearly, God’s calling is entirely the result of His grace).  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.  Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control; and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness; and in your brother kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.  Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you (NIV = “be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure”; it is equally clear that we must not be idle in taking hold of the eternal life to which we are called); for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
2 Peter 1:3-11

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called (for, indeed, many are called, but few are chosen!).
1 Timothy 6:12

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king (God), who gave a wedding feast for his son (Jesus).  And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.  Again he sent out other slaves saying, “Tell those who have been invited, ‘Behold, I have prepared my (spiritual) dinner, my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.’”  But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business (for they loved the world and the things of the world more than they loved God), and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.  But the king was enraged and sent his armies (the powers of darkness), and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire.  Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited (called) were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.”  And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.  But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes (the garments of salvation and robe of Christ’s righteousness, which are donned only through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth, cf. Is 61:10, 2 Thess 2:13, and Rom 8:1-17), and he said to him, “Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?”  And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness (Hell); in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew 22:2-14

Let us now consider various aspects of our calling.  First, as we have seen, the call of God is by grace:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel….He…called me through His grace, (and) was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.
Galatians 1:6,15-16

We are also called to peace:

God has called us to peace.
1 Corinthians 7:15

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.
Colossians 3:15

We are called as salt and light, to reflect the very nature of the God who called us:

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this your were called, so that you may inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”  But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.”  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore your are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:38-48

And we are called to suffer:

If when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.  For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.
1 Peter 2:20-21

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling.
2 Timothy 1:8-9

And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
2 Timothy 3:12

But as we follow after the example of our Savior and suffer for His sake, so shall we also share in the glory which followed His sufferings:

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
1 Peter 5:10

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.  And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power; in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these he also justified; and whom he justified, these He also glorified.
Romans 8:30

We were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

For as the previous verses allude, those who heed the call of God shall receive the promised inheritance of eternal life:

He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 9:15

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling (which is eternal life).
Ephesians 1:18

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.
1 Timothy 6:12

Finally, those who heed the call of God belong to Christ Jesus, and as they abide in Him and He abides in them and lives His life of holiness in them and through them, nothing shall ever separate them from Him:

And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:6 (NIV)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.
John 10:27-30

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