TO CHEW ON: "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you …. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace…" Galatians 1:6, 15
A little over a week ago we began our reading in Galatians by looking at Paul's strong sense of authority ( the devo "Who says so?").
In our reading today he continues to give his credentials. He refers to God's call on his life (Galatians 1:6,15). It was a call that began, for him, with a dramatic conversion (Acts 9:1-19). It also involved some one-to-one time with God (Galatians 1:17,18). For instead of going for instructions about this change of direction to the apostles, he went to Asia where "God revealed to him the substance of the gospel" - Jerry Horner, study notes on Galatians, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1632.
God's call on a life
God's call on a Christian's life is a theme that runs through the Bible. It is especially present in Paul's writings, but in others too. What does it mean to be called? Do we in the 21st century have a similar 'separated from my mother's womb' mark on our lives?
I did a brief survey of Bible passages that refer to calling (defined in the Thompson Chain Bible under the category "Calling" as "a sense of divine appointment"). Here are some things I learned:
1. It is God who calls.
- Paul talks about God choosing him from before birth (Galatians 1:15) and choosing people for salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:14). He begins Romans with the reminder that his readers are "called to be saints" (Romans 1:7).
- It is a choice based not on our merits or good works but "according to His own purpose and grace" (2 Timothy 1:9). In fact the reason God chose us may make no sense us and others (1 Corinthians 1:26).
We can look at God's call from two points of view: God's and ours.
2. From God's point of view, His call involves:
- His foreknowledge and are our pre-destiny. They are the basis of the assurance that no matter how badly things seem to be going, "all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28-30).
- God's call is good and allows us to live with hope (Ephesians 1:18).
- Peter talks about the called as those destined to experience Jesus' "eternal glory" (1 Peter 5:10).
3. From our point of view, God's call will impact the way we live.
- Paul urges the Ephesus Christians to walk worthy of their calling (Ephesians 4:1,2).
- In another place he describes the called as Christ's slaves (1 Corinthians 7:22).
- Peter urges his readers to "make your call and election sure" by living like called ones. Even though we may suffer, the perseverance of our calling will establish, strengthen and settle us (1 Peter 5:10).
- Peter also lists the positive fruits that will grow in the lives of the called—knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love. (2 Peter 1:5-7).
4. But the called can also forsake their calling.
- Many of Jesus' early disciples did (John 6:65).
- Paul in our reading is surprised that the Galatians are doing that very thing (Galatians 1:6).
The mystery of whether those who forsake their call (e.g. backslide) were never called in the first place (God's election and predestination) is in God's hands. As far as we are concerned, we have choices to make. Let's affirm God's call on our lives by living like called ones.
PRAYER: Dear God, what an amazing thing it is to think about Your call on the lives of unworthy, unlikely people. Thank You for making this life of hope and a wonderful eternal destiny available to me. Amen.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.