It is easy enough to establish the fact that God is the one who calls people, to himself through Jesus Christ, by means of the gospel (1 Thess. 2:12-14, 2 Thess. 2:13-17). Much is said about accepting and following the calling of God, by conforming to His will (Rom. 12:1-2). “(God) saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:9). “Holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1). “Press on toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14. One might think it is easy to identify “the called, the called of God” (Rom. 8:28, 1 Cor. 1:24, Rom. 1:6-7). But Jesus’ statement that “many are called, but few chosen” in Mt. 20:16 and 22:14 makes it clear that the term called is used in more ways than one. We will find that those who are “the called” belong to a very small and select group.
EQUIVALENT TERMS IN SEVERAL CATEGORIES.
Some common religious words indicate specific action on God's part, usually related to something done by the persons involved..
• “CALLED OUT” (EKKLESIA). Mt. 16:18 Implies “called together.”
• SANCTIFIED. 2 Thess. 2:13, cf Rom. 1:6-7 “called (to be) saints” – designated as saints of God in Christ.
• CHOSEN. 2 Th. 2:13, cf Eph. 1:4, Mt. 20:16 “few are chosen.” Only those who respond properly to the calling are chosen,
• ELECT. 1 Thess. 1:4
• ADOPTED. Eph. 1:5
• ACCEPTED. Eph. 1:6
Some words and expressions indicate results in the person’s condition.
• FORGIVEN. Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14
• REDEEMED. Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14
• SAVED. Acts 2:47
• In FELLOWSHIP with God and Christ. 1 John 1:3
• CITIZENSHIP in the heavenly kingdom. Phil. 3:20
• WORTHY of the kingdom. 2 Th. 1:5, cf 1 Th. 2:12, Eph. 4:1, Col. 1:10, Rev. 3:4
• RIGHTEOUS. Phil. 3:9, Rom. 10:3-4, Rom. 4:22-25
• BLAMELESS. Phil. 2:15; have been corrected and forgiven, are no longer blamed for uncorrected and unforgiven sins.
• “Partakers of the DIVINE NATURE.” 2 Peter 1:4
SOME COMMON ERRORS MADE IN IDENTIFYING "THE CALLED."
The term “member of the church” is not necessarily equivalent to “called” – at least not in the sense of right standing with God and valid hope of eternal salvation.
• What of members who from grace”? Gal. 5:4
• What of those who fail to obey apostolic doctrines? 2 Th. 3:6, 14
• What of the trouble makers and false teachers? Rom. 16:17
• What of those who are wilfully ignorant and not growing in faith and application of faith? 2 Peter 3:5, 14-18, Heb. 5:11-14
• What of those who are negligent in service? Heb. 2:1-4
• Is selective obedience (same principle as selective disobedience) sufficient for salvation? John 15:14, Mt. 28:18-20, James 4:17
A common error: assuming that anything done “in the name of the Lord” or “to the glory of the Lord” is acceptable to Him.
• “In the name of the Lord” is certainly a required factor. Col. 3:17, Eph. 5:20
• But “in the name of the Lord” means “as commanded, taught or authorized by the Lord.” Mt. 28:18-20, Mt. 7:21-29
• Everything one does should be “to the glory of God.” 1 Cor.
10:31, Mt. 5:16
• Falsely claiming the Lord’s authority and approval and doing things contrary to His will do not bring glory to Him, and may cause others to blaspheme God. cf Rom. 2:24
The claimed authority to legislate for God or interpret His word in keeping with changing moral and social or political contexts is the fallacy which has produced the spectacle of a divided and divisive religion parading itself as “Christianity” or “Christendom,” with the different kinds of churches, all claiming to be part of the church of Christ.
THE KEY TO IDENTIFYING “THE CALLED” IS “CONTINUED FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST.”
One becomes part of “the called” only by obeying the gospel of Christ. 2 Thess. 2:13-15, cf Heb. 5:9, Rom.6:17; cf also 2 Thess. 1:8
The Lord calls us to abide in His word – to receive the truth and not depart from it. John 8:24, 31-32 and 15:6-7; cf 1 John 1:7 and 2:5, 1 John 3:4, Mt. 7:13-14
Faithfulness is a continuing and ongoing responsibility.
• Faithfulness includes all that is meant by such words as obedience, patience, righteousness, perfection, etc.
• Faithfulness cannot be a part-time attitude or activity. That contradicts faithfulness.
• Faithfulness is a full-time attitude and activity – regular, consistent, dependable, etc. It means continually doing from the heart what one knows to be the doctrine and will of God – what the Lord calls “good” (Rom. 6:17, James 4:15 and 17, 1 John 5:14). It means being blameless. Let no fault that is found remain uncorrected, no conflict unresolved, at least to the extent that it is possible, or to the extent that it depends upon the person. 1 John 1:7-9, Acts 8:22; Romans 12:18
Those who do not know the gospel are still “called” by it and accountable to it, even though they never hear it. Those who hear but do not respond appropriately are not “the called” of the Lord.Those who are not faithful to the calling of the Lord, even though they once embraced and followed faithfully for a time, are not “the called” of the Lord. Church members who are not functioning parts of the body are not “the called” of the Lord. Those who are doing things not authorized by the Lord may think they are glorifying and pleasing the Lord or lifting up His name and church to others but are not among “the called.” “The called” are only those who respond properly and faithfully to the calling of God.