Today I’m continuing the series I’ve been preaching on the call of God. Recap:
– 1st message: I spoke on how God chose to have a unique, personal and real relationship with us. Because this relationship is unique for each one of us, God does not deal with all of us in the same way.
– 2nd message: I shared two important truths about the call of God that point to where it begins. First, “The Call of God isn’t so much about what He wants US to do FOR Him but more importantly about what HE wants us to do WITH US. Second, “The Effectiveness of God’s calling in our life depends on our response”.
– 3rd message: Our greatest struggle isn’t knowing what God desires of us; it is choosing to be obedient to God and His call in my life!Today’s message begins with this statement, “The Call of God is a Worthy Call!”…there are a lot of things that we do in life but there is no greater thing we could do than fulfilling what God’s plan is for our life!! And the message I am trying to get across is that God has a calling for every single person. As I’ve emphasized over and over in this series “All are called!” There is a purpose for your life. There is a reason why you are who you are. There is a significant reason for living. Until you know that purpose, until you embrace your life in Christ, until you live His life everything you do, everything you say, everything you experience will feel like it’s missing some ingredient, some component that would make it right.
One of the first things I notice in the text I’m preaching from today is Paul urging the Ephesians to live a life worthy of the calling they had received. In other words, God’s calling is valuable so make your life count – let your life be a testimony to the worthiness of God’s calling. It is not a trivial thing, it is not a temporary thing, it is not a tasteless thing – the call of God should be a primary guiding force in your life because as Christians, Jesus Christ is our life!! Paul recognized this when he described himself as a prisoner for the Lord.
In our text then this morning, Paul describes what constitutes living a life worthy of the calling you have received. In doing so we gain some further insight into understanding the calling of God for your life.
Fulfilling the calling of God results in unity among God’s people (vs. 2-5,11-12)
It is the primary nature of God’s call to promote unity among God’s people. Paul writes elsewhere that Christians are to be “ministers of reconciliation”. If you think God has called you to be served by other people then I think you’re reading a different Bible than mine. If you think God has called you to a place of more significance and value than another person then I think you’re reading a different Bible than mine.
The call of God is fundamentally the same for every single one of us.
At first you may think I’m contradicting myself because I know I have said at other times that God’s call on each one of us is unique. But these statements while seemingly oppose each other are actually different facets of the call of God.
We may all have different roles or parts that God wants us to play in His plan and His plan for each one of us is unique and based on how He has created us (as illustrated by Paul’s reference to how God gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers) BUT the fundamental call never changes… What is the fundamental call for every single one of us?
4 There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:4-6 (NIV)
Paul says, “just as you were called to one HOPE when you were called”… What is this “one Hope” that Paul is talking about? Hope here refers to a “favorable and confident expectation” having to do with the unseen and the future. It is confident in that this is something based on assurance of fulfillment rather than wishful thinking. This is the difference between Paul’s use of the word here and how it is commonly used today. When people use hope in a sentence what they are usually really saying is I’m not sure that this is going to happen but I sure wish that it does. Don’t we always say that before sitting down to fill out our income tax return or send off our tax information to the accountant? Come on, secretly aren’t we saying to ourselves, “I hope I get a nice refund…?” This is not how Paul is using the word hope. Using hope in this way is simply saying, “I’m not sure that I’ll get one, and in fact I probably won’t but I wish I would”. To take this analogy further – “hope” as Paul is using it would be better expressed in this context: After doing the calculations or receiving the news from the Accountant that the government owes you a refund, you say to yourself, “I hope the refund comes soon.” There, your hope is a confident expectation – there is no doubt you’ll receive the refund – you just haven’t got it yet. This is the nature of the Hope that Paul is talking about.
So if Paul is talking about a favorable and confident expectation here – and remember this is the fundamentally same call every single one of us have – then what is the expectation Paul is talking about? Clues that answer this question are scattered throughout the early letter’s to the church:
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:22-25 (NIV)
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness– 2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,
Titus 1:1-3 (NIV)
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:17-21 (NIV)
24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness– 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:24-27 (NIV)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
1 Timothy 1:1 (NIV)
With these clues taken from these scriptures and others in Paul’s writings we learn that this confident expectation he is talking about here is…
Centered on Christ
Anytime Paul talks about this “hope” it is connected with the person and activity of Christ. He is the source for our hope, He is the fulfillment of hope, He is the continuation of hope. To the mind of Paul, apart from Christ there is no hope. In other words our future and our lives is wrapped up in the complete work and person of Jesus Christ who is Saviour and God. That is why the fundamental call that joins every believer together is the call to Christ. He is our hope. In this sense we also learn through Paul’s writings that this hope is…
Both something obtained and something yet to come
Paul frequently refers to this hope in the sense that what we hope for has already been obtained and yet is still to come. The “what” that He is talking about is life in Christ. Specifically a life that is complete, whole and full of the glory of God. In one sense this hope is fulfilled in the believer who places His life in God’s hands and trusts in the truth and validity of His word. In one sense this hope is fulfilled in the person who has willingly surrendered their lives to God and yielded control over to the one who created them.
In yet another sense there is the understanding that yes, we are made whole by Christ. Our sins, our failings, or selfishness are taken care of by the cross but yet there is still a process of becoming more like Him – even though we are assured as Paul wrote to the Colossian church of the mystery of Christ in us. There is the understanding that we hope (that is eagerly, and confidently look forward) to that day when we are no longer hampered by the failings of our flesh and the sinful mind. Where we are totally and completely whole in Christ.
This how the call of God is fundamentally the same for every single one of us.
The call of God will always lead you to a place of service. (4:11-12)
to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
Ephesians 4:12 (NIV)
Humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love are all qualities of a servant. It is in the place of a servant that we are of the greatest use to God. Those who serve God will always find themselves at some point serving people! Remember the greatest commandments Jesus mentioned were to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. Such love can only be found in the heart of a servant.
A quick way to evaluate whether something is indeed what God is calling you is to ask yourself if it involves serving.
It is the nature of a heart that serves to be in unity with other servants. This is why the call of God promotes unity among God’s people. We are all in service of the King together – we are all serving each other and the people God calls us to. There is no room for disunity, and for petty squabbles over recognition, reward, and pride in the Kingdom of God. Those things only lead to disunity.
Fulfilling the call of God results in maturity among God’s people.
If we had a church with a body of believers who were all seeking and fulfilling the call of God in their lives then you would have a church of unified, maturing Christians.
Ephesians 4:12-13 (NIV)
12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
What is maturity according to Paul? “Attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” It is reaching the place where Christ lives through you. It is attaining that place where people are attracted to Christ by how you live! It is living out the Hope that I talked about earlier.
When your life reflects the life of Christ then you are mature. Yet the external evidence of maturity is the natural outflow of what happens internally. Maturity is when you are “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). It is when your heart’s desires are prompted by the desires of God’s heart. It’s when what you believe lines up with God’s word. It’s when your motivations for what you do are sparked by the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
When you fulfill the call of God for your life you are taking a step towards maturity in your faith. People who are sure about the calling of God in their lives and are obedient to what He is asking them to do will not be swayed by the temporary offerings of this world. A church of such people will replicate and grow as God works through them to bring others into His family.
I like what Paul writes in the next few verses,
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:14-16 (NIV)
So after saying all this how do we live lives worthy of the calling we have received?
Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
1. Recognize that God has called you!! And that His calling on your life is unique!
2. Believe that the call of God is something valuable.
3. Recognize that while the calling God has place on your life is unique, you are also part of a body of believers with a fundamentally unified call.
4. Evaluate what you are doing in light of what Paul says about God’s call…
– Do you contribute to the unity of the church? (humble, patient, bearing with one another in love)
– Are you leading people to Christ (knowledge of the Son of God)?
– Are you confident and certain in what God is telling you to do?
5. Be obedient to the call of God for your life!