Loved and Called - Part 2
Updated: Jan 19, 2020
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus…5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In last week’s meditation on “calling,” we emphasized that getting hold of the concept of our “effectual calling” in Christ has a huge impact on how we view the gospel and discipleship. Specifically, understanding that God very specifically chooses, calls and “quickens” people to be His. This quickening, or “making alive” causes them to repent and believe in the gospel. The realization of God’s having specifically and “effectually” called me out of my lost condition and into His family makes extremely grateful, and eager to live a life that pleases and honors Him.
In the passage we are considering Paul also says that he is not only effectually called by Christ to be a Christian, but that he is “called as an apostle,” that is “one sent” by Jesus Himself with the mission of representing Christ and sharing the gospel with others, and that he has been empowered and authorized to do so. Paul understood the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and knew with certainty that it applied to him.
Paul likewise communicates to those who are in Christ that they, too, are called and empowered with this same message. In I Corinthians 6:19-20, he writes, “…you are not your own, you were bought with a price…” In II Corinthians 5:15, he says, “…and He died for all, that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” Those whom God has effectually called, He has also appointed as agents of His grace. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:17-20:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
The Apostle Peter agrees with this:
“You (who are in Christ) are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)
As one for whom God’s call was effectual in producing repentance and faith, I must realize that Jesus, by His death for my sake, has “bought” my life and its purposes, now and for eternity. I am called, not only to follow Jesus, but to represent Him on earth, to proclaim the gospel, and to make disciples for Him, that others in turn might also make disciples for Him. This is not a task given only to a select few - the original eleven Apostles, plus Paul and a few others, or just to pastors, elders, missionaries, teachers - but to every believer. Each of us is called to Christ’s eternal purposes.
By this calling, Paul saw himself as indebted to Christ and therefore “under obligation” to proclaim Christ to Gentiles, to barbarians, to wise people, to foolish people, basically to any and all those to whom Christ directs him (1:14). Out of great gratitude, Paul accepted Christ’s agenda for his life. Because Jesus had given His life for Paul’s redemption, Paul would surrender his life to the One who saved and purchased him.
Paul’s example and exhortation compel me to ask, to whom am I under obligation - to tell them about Jesus, to share the good news of the gospel, in the hope that God’s call will also be effectual in their lives?
What about you? If the call of the gospel has been effectual in your life, do you also sense that you are a person “under obligation?” Among what group of people has Jesus sovereignly placed you, so that you may represent Him and tell them the wonderful good news that Jesus has died for the sins of all who will turn from those sins and place their faith in His death and resurrection on their behalf?
Dr. Larry Sherbondy directs The Navigators ROTC Ministry. He and his wife, Rita, have been on staff with The Navigators for over 40 years. Larry also served for 25 years as in the US Air Force Reserve, retiring in the rank of Lt Col. He and Rita live in Carlisle, PA, and have two married children and seven grandchildren.