God’s Calling

God's call 18

Q. What does the Bible say about God’s calling? Does God call us to do specific things? If yes, where does our freedom to choose come in?

A. The Bible has a lot to say about our calling, with respect to both our salvation and service.

Regarding salvation:
1 Co 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, …
• 2 Tim 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace …

And concerning service:
“the word of the LORD came” to His prophets e.g. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Haggai, Zechariah etc.
• Acts 13:2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

For service, the call could be specific, as in the examples cited above, or general e.g. the Great Commission (Mt 28:19, Mk 16:15, Lk 24:47, Jn 20:21, Acts 1:8).

The calling does not depend on how good or bad we are, and is irrevocable, but those called are required to make certain about the calling, and live up to it:
1 Co 1:26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
• Rom 11:29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
• 2 Pet 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
• Eph 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
• 2 Thes 1:11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power,

What happens to our freedom to choose? We still have it, within the limits God gave us:
Deut 1:26 Yet you were not willing to go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God;
• Isa 30:15 For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing,
• Mt 23:37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

God gave us a choice and we can freely choose to obey or disobey. However, when we disobey we have to pay for the consequences of disobedience ourselves.

God’s Choice vs. Man’s Choice (2 of 2)

God's or Man's choice 1

(Continued from yesterday)

Yesterday we examined 3 out of 4 combinations of God’s choice versus man’s. Let’s look at the last one today:

God vs Man Choice

4. God bypasses the person, but he chooses to receive Christ:
a. If God has the final say (Calvinist), he is lost.
b. If man has the final say (Arminian), he is saved.

The Calvinist view is that if God passes over an individual and leaves him to his devices, his fallen state is such that without the enabling of the Holy Spirit, he does not have the ability to choose Christ on his own. Arminians disagree, believing that though a sinner is spiritually sick, he still has the capacity to receive Christ. Who is correct?

The Bible description of a fallen man is:
Jn 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him;
• Eph 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
• Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, …
• Col 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, …

Jn 6:44 says “no one can”. “Can” speaks of ability. No one has the ability to come to Christ “unless the Father draws him”. The precondition for coming to Christ is the Father’s drawing, His enablement. Why can’t he come on his own? Because he is “dead” according to Eph and Col. A spiritually dead person does not have the ability to respond to Christ’s invitation, unless the Father draws or enables him. Arminians feel that man has prevenient grace so that he is only sick and not dead, and can still choose to accept Christ. I don’t find this in Scripture. It is a view held by many who overvalued man’s ability and understated God’s sovereignty, but there is no biblical basis for it.

Furthermore, the Arminian position would lead to an absurd conclusion, a reductio ad absurdum. Let’s play along and assume that a non-elect person does have the capacity to exercise his free will to choose Christ. If man has the final say, he is saved despite God bypassing him. Man becomes sovereign, not God, which is wrong by definition. What if God has the final say? Since God did not choose him, He overrules the man’s free choice of Christ. This would make God a capricious despot denying eternal life to a person who receives Christ. That is certainly not the God of the Bible. So I am persuaded both by Scripture and logic that the Arminian position is untenable.

Finally, why would God waste time in letting us convert those predestined to hell? He wouldn’t waste time. We witness to all as we don’t know who the elect are, but we won’t succeed in converting the non-elect. They would either resist God’s offer of salvation, or there would be false conversion in which there is an emotional response which withers away, but no real life that perseveres because it does not abide in Christ. God permits such activities to train us to be obedient and sharpen our evangelistic skill. Plus we learn to be more Christ-like in the process as you pointed out. Hope this is clear.