God’s Sovereign Call
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:1–2, )
Paul was called, Paul was chosen by the will of God. He did not seek, ask, or desire. He was chosen by the Grace of God.
In fact, he was radically opposed to God and hated God. He fought God with all his might!
“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,” (Ephesians 3:7–8, ESV)
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent (violent) opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:12–17, ESV) (He knows your destiny!)
“Then he (Jesus) appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:7–10, ESV)
Paul’s will was involved. He had to yield to God and say yes to the calling., BUT WHO WOULDN’T? But God is the one who called him to this ministry. He didn’t invite himself!
But the Good News for Paul is the Same as it is For YOU. You are called and You are Chosen! (if you be in Christ) :
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:3–7, ESV)
Note here that Paul continually repeats that God is accomplishing everything according to the purpose of his will!
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:11–14, ESV)
People don’t like the word “predestination,” because it implies we don’t have free will. But we have to be faithful to what the scripture says, and Paul mentions it several times here in this passage. Predestination has to do with the Sovereign will and ability of God to accomplish everything according to his will in spite of the resistance and rebellion of mankind. And the key here is that you are predestined in LOVE to be conformed to the image of Jesus.
Predestination has to do with the ultimate plan of salvation, but it does not mean we cannot resist or choose to cooperate. We still have temporal freedom of our will, to the degree we are not enslaved to sin, addictions, and oppression. For if we are under the devil’s power, we are indeed not free in our will, but enslaved. Jesus came to free us from slavery and restore the freedom of our will.
Jesus Said: “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34–36, ESV)
Because before we come to Jesus, our wills are indeed enslaved, just as Paul was to hatred and violence, it makes sense why Paul says, :
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:7–10, ESV)
We cannot throw out predestination because it makes us uncomfortable or because we are concerned for those who have not yet accepted their calling to Jesus. A pastor I know once said wisely, “Preach grace and let election happen.” Our calling is to call all to repentance, and let him who will come Come! But the Good News is God is working to bring to salvation all He has called and HE CANNOT BE STOPPED! He will have his own! No man can stop him and that should give us hope and courage when we preach the good news of God’s grace and forgiveness. And you should be encouraged because you were called and chosen!
Paul does indeed paint a picture of the natural man outside this grace of salvation. We don’t have the ability to choose God unless God chooses us:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1–7, ESV)
There are plenty of scriptures that indicate that God is indeed in control. We preach the good news of God’s forgiveness, but the Sovereign God is a faithful judge of humankind. He is able to judge the human heart and know whether someone truly wants God or prefers hatred. Paul was in rebellion, but God saw his heart. He chose Paul in spite of his rebellion, just as he offered forgiveness to the thief on the cross next to him.
While we may not like the idea of God’s right to judge the souls of men, there are plenty of scriptures that reveal God’s ability and right to do so.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37, ESV)
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”” (John 3:17–21, ESV)
“Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:43–44, ESV)
“In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luke 10:21–22, ESV)
Finally the Good News: Your destiny is kept in Him, and not by yourselves, your own strength or power. Your salvation is not dependent upon how good you are or how good you can be; it is dependent upon the grace of God and his love for you. In Him you are secure. In ourselves we have no hope!