It is a decisive fact in the Christian world that believers are a group of called out people. If you are a Christian, it means you have been called by God, the Holy One. Even those who are outside this group subtly understand the importance or the makeup of Christians. For this reason, the world around us always watches our behavior. As long as we walk in a holy manner those outside the church are amazed that we do not walk in their ways; this brings perfect glory to God. The problem arises only when those who claim to be Christians walk in an unworthy manner. It is a hard saying, but not all Christians belong to the church and they are recognizable. There are Christians whose behavior is abhorred by God. They are more than those who walk in Christ! Many know that God is holy, but live an unholy life. Yet, they all call themselves His children.
In a way all humans created in the image of God are sons of God, but there is a distinction between humans in general and the called out. The former are the fallen and the latter, the reconciled. You are reconciled since you have been created a new by God’s calling in Jesus. Only those made pure are the begotten of God. For this reason, the Holy Spirit exhorts saying, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet. 1:15). The problem is not with the One who calls, but with those who call themselves as the called. A simple wisdom is – our holiness reflects our calling. Now, the truly called and those who assume as the called are realized. If the One who called you is holy and your holiness does not reflect Him, you have not been called or have been separated from grace. True, all have fallen short of the grace of God. Yet, when those who receive grace are not short of it, then they who are not called are realized. Those that have been truly called know the power and value of grace. When they transgress due to a fleshly weakness or Satan’s trickery, they are wise enough to approach God for forgiveness. Therefore, they continue in grace.
Thus, there are two kinds of unholy “Christians;” the not called and those separated from grace by disobedience to Christ. It is because of these there is great loss to the church. The main reason for is the preachers and teachers without God’s calling. Hence, the primary work of the church is greatly diminished. The notion of the calling of God has been greatly abused. It is abused with selfish motives, inflation of the fleshly mind, uncalled for visions and the wisdom of self-made religion. Amazingly, all these are from using the Word. This is the evidence that God has not called them. When the God who calls is holy, those who are called to preach and believe are also holy in all matters. It is the only way!
“Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches” (1 Cor. 7:17). The mystery of God’s calling is revealed in the above verse. We walk not only when God calls us, but when He assigns to each one that which He desires. The calling and the assigning will not be ambiguous since it is done by Christ. This will make us be holy in all matters. It is grieving to see Christians without the knowledge of God’s calling, since they are damaging the Way. They do not have the knowledge, because they have never been assigned by the Lord. Therefore, the churches are walking in the wisdom of self-made religion; and doctrines that have never been called for by the Lord are implemented. Newer doctrines and theories to worship are being introduced. Hence, wherever and whenever there is a need for the liberty of the Spirit it is being nullified by the power of the flesh. Because there are churches that have not been called, the commandments of God are easily overlooked. Many are impulsively drawn into the error of these churches and assume to be the called. But the Spirit says, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God” (1 Cor. 7:19).
Whatever doctrines a church teaches it is meaningless when the commandments of God are overlooked. A doctrine is of value only when it comes from the understanding of God’s command. Yet, the churches of Christ and of God or the churches that call themselves as belonging to God have acclimatized themselves in bringing forth doctrines that are without Christ. If one says “I am circumcised,” and yet habitually does wrong, his circumcision is of no value. Circumcision must be of the heart. Circumcision did not come before faith, but faith was confirmed by circumcision. Faith was Abraham’s first work and not circumcision. Since by faith Abraham obeyed God and was credited with righteousness, circumcision was given to him as a seal. He received righteousness when his circumcision was first of the heart by faith. Now, circumcision in the flesh was worth only because of faith. Hence, Paul elsewhere in the Spirit regarding a Jew says, circumcision must be of the heart. The circumcision that was performed in the flesh on the eighth day became a reminder to the righteousness Abraham, their father, received by faith. In other words, this circumcision reminded a Jew of the kind of faith he must have to be credited with righteousness; for no one can see God without it! For this reason also, the leaders, kings and priests were held responsible for the spiritual well being of all Israel.
Even so must be the nature of faith in the church. Many are entangled in works rather than embracing the pivotal work performed in the heart. Some are confined to the view of baptizing only, some with spiritual gifts and others with giving or gathering. Yet, all these forget the one necessary act i.e. circumcision of the heart by faith. Such circumcision being performed by the Spirit will lead a person to salvation. Baptism does not give remission of sins. It is a seal for repentance (or forgiveness of sins) that comes by faith in Christ. It is an appeal to God for a good conscience. Yet, the appeal cannot be made without having faith in the resurrection of Christ. As long as one does not keep the commandments of God baptism too is nothing. When there are people without hearts circumcised by faith and yet with baptism and gather together as church they are the not called Christians; so too are those claiming spiritual gifts, etc. They not only create false glory to God, but also bring forth doctrines and teach principles that are not of the Word. In doing so, they persecute those who preach and do works for Christ with hearts circumcised by faith. For this reason, Jesus says, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (Matt. 10:22).
Such confidence is absolutely necessary to those who sincerely work for Him. It gives them preparedness and the faith to carry on forward which produces endurance. Even Christ was persecuted by His own people; so also His servants shall be persecuted by their own. Hence, endurance is of much need. Those with circumcised hearts by faith shall have the endurance both to be saved and to help others be saved. Though hatred shoots at them like flaming arrows, faith protects their hearts and gives them the endurance to stand. Praise be to the Lord for such an incredible faith! But, those who make themselves ‘the called’ shall not last, since the faith that produces endurance will not protect them. Therefore, they keep on transgressing the commandments of God. They keep on living in that condition from which they were not called. Though they may look well from the outside their hearts are filled with faithlessness that leads to pain. They will be known as those who were not called by the Holy One. “How shall I admonish you? To what shall I compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? To what shall I liken you as I comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is as vast as the sea; Who can heal you?” (Lam. 2:13).
However, there is an advice for all those who feel they are called by God. Weigh up yourselves by the standard God has given in Christ and know if you have been called by the gospel. Consider the things that you do with your hands, see with your eyes and think with your mind. Evaluate the paths you walk and the things that your heart desire. If your conscience bears witness against you, realize you have not been called by God. At the same time know there will always be those who defy their conscience and these are the ones marked out for condemnation beforehand. If you are a man or woman imprisoned by greed, power and pride, you ought to know such is evil. Do not be grieved at the hearing of this, but since there is still opportunity to turn to the Lord, circumcise your heart by faith in Christ. God shall deliver you from the hand of Satan and his servants by calling you for salvation. “Hate evil, you who love the LORD, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked” (Ps. 97:10).
But to those who are called indeed – do not take the grace of God for granted and sin against Him. For we have known the power of grace and the sweetness in it. We are with the full knowledge that our works have not brought us to God, but God by faith has called us to Himself through Christ. Furthermore, we have experienced the works of God in us so that our faith in Christ is being shone vibrantly to those in darkness. For if we deviate from grace our intimacy with God no longer remains. There will be no more sacrifice remaining and so, will have no opportunity to repent. In other words, God will no longer use us for His kingdom, though we’ve been saved; our works will be fruitless. This is frightening and our last state would be worse than the first. Why should we who have been blessed by the Lord with imperishable things be as those who sell themselves for the perishable things? “Then Jehu gathered all the people and said to them, ‘Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu will serve him much’” (2 Kings 10:18).