“Abram, leave your country, leave your culture, leave your family, and follow me.”
The old Sumerian was called to leave everything that he knew and turn to a new God. This God was different than the gods of his father, Terah. But Abram obeyed the call of God. God had a design to rescue fallen mankind through a descendant in the family of Abram.
This was the first call of God on Abram (later to be called Abraham), and certainly would not be the last. We later find that this calling of God predicated Abraham’s faith, and ultimately culminated in his being declared righteous by God in Genesis 15:6.
Throughout Scripture, God consistently calls people to Himself. In Deuteronomy 14:2, Moses writes, “Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself…” The same thought is carried out in Leviticus 11:45 where God tells His chosen people that He rescued them from their bondage in Egypt, “to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” God continually says, “I chose you that you might worship and serve me with your lives. I saved you for a purpose.”
As you continue to the New Testament God continues to extend His saving grace for very similar purposes. In Acts 15:13-18, James explains the historic calling of God on His chosen people. It is not a generic call whereby He flippantly chooses some for eternal glory and others for eternal damnation. Rather, with Sovereign purpose, He calls men and women from every nation, tribe, and tongue that they might live holy lives of separation dedicated to His worship and His glory. He does not choose them simply for their bettered situation (although their situation certainly is immeasurably improved); He chooses them for Himself.
When we arrive at a text like Ephesians 1:4, that speaks of those who are “chosen in him,” this should not be a phrase that confuses or frightens us. Rather, understanding that God has been calling men and women throughout the entire history of the human race, we should be moved in confidence to understand that God truly does call people out from the ranks of humanity to fulfill roles of service to Him.
With this confidence, we read the opening of Paul’s epistle to the believers in Thessalonica. As Paul begins his letter, he sends the greetings of Silas (he calls him Silvanus) and Timothy along to the Thessalonians. As Paul recounts the testimony of the Thessalonians, there is one thing that Paul knows for sure about these believers. He knows that based upon the evidences of God’s grace, demonstrated through their faith, love and hope, they are without a doubt, “elect of God” – a chosen people set apart to God. Their lives demonstrated this truth. They were God’s people, and they lived in such a way that everyone could know it.
Food For Thought: Read 1 Peter 1:15-16. When Peter writes about the “call of God,” what does he say that calling should motivate us to be?