Christ said He would build His Church. Not many churches but One True Church. But who makes up that Church and how does one become a member? Can you simply join it? Or is there much more involved? The answer may astound you.
We Weren’t Seeking God
Some have misinterpreted certain Scriptures that seem to say that anyone can come to Christ, anytime they desire. This belief is just not so when you understand the time setting. Notice Isaiah 65:1 “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. 2. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; 3. A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burn incense upon altars of brick.” (Read on through verse 10 and you'll see that some will seek God, but will have a different attitude, in a later time period.)
Also notice in Isaiah 55:5 “Behold thou shalt call a nation, that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for He hath glorified thee. 6. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
Hosea 2:13 “And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgot me, saith the LORD.” But notice the next verse! Here, He makes a difference with some! Verse 14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably (to her heart or friendly) unto her.” Then, it changes into the millennial setting, after the return of Christ. This is when the majority of mankind will receive their calling. (Read verses 15 thru 23.)
There will come a time, when mankind will be brought to a place of real repentance; then they will truly seek God. Deuteronomy 4:29 “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find Him, if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30. When thou art in TRIBULATION (Matt. 24:21), and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if you turn unto the LORD your God, and shall be obedient unto His voice.”
Revelation 7 reveals a saving of one hundred and forty four thousand Israelites, plus "a great multitude" of all nations, who "stand before the Lamb"(ver.9) and reveals them as, "they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
God Must Have Some Sort of Criteria in Deciding Whom to Call
Isaiah 28:9 “Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts (Heb.5:12-14). 10. For precept must be upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little: 11. For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people. 12. To whom He said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they WOULD NOT HEAR (they wouldn’t listen). 13. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.”
So a key to understanding God’s Word is being willing to listen to God’s commands and instructions. Brethren, for a long time this Scripture was an enigma to me. It didn’t make a lot of sense, until I realized that it was talking to two different groups of people!
What Made That Difference?
I believe that difference is shown here and in other Scriptures we will cover later. It also reveals why and how God calls us to His Son. For a cross-reference, let’s turn to:
I Corinthians 14:21 “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that WILL THEY NOT HEAR ME, saith the Lord.”
So this difference that God makes in revealing His knowledge of Truth is contingent upon who will HEAR! What does that mean? Anyone can hear, can’t they? Yes, but God’s Word defines the kind of hearer (Mt. 13:17) that He is looking for! For a deeper understanding turn to:
Romans 2:4 “Or despiseth thou the richness of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance. 5. But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6. Who will render to every man according to his deeds 7. To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. 8. But unto them that are CONTENTIOUS, and DO NOT OBEY THE TRUTH, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, (Ah, did you notice the difference between those described in verse 7 and verse 8? It seems to indicate a rebellious nature and an unwillingness, to listen to God’s instructions.) 9. Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.
10. But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11. For there is no respect of persons with God.” Verse 13 “(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Of course, we must, not only be WILING TO LISTEN TO GOD, but to follow up by DOING.
What Kind of Person is God looking for, when He is SELECTING THOSE for His Church? John 4:23 “But the hour cometh, when the true worshippers shall worship the father in Spirit and in Truth: FOR THE FATHER SEEKS SUCH TO WORSHIP HIM. 24. God is a Spirit: and they that worship must worship Him in spirit and in Truth.”
God is looking for a right attitude - a right heart that will be willing to listen to what He says!
Now, does that give any of us “boasting rights”, because God, in His infinite mercy, has chosen us to be among those “first called” or “first fruits”? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!
Romans 9:20 “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? 21. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? 22. What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23.And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, 24, Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” Romans 11:5 “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 7. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election (those called at this time) hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”
Notice the parable of the sower: Matthew 13:3 “And He spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4. And when he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth; and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth. 6. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them. 8. But other fell into GOOD GROUND, and brought forth fruit, some and hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” 9. WHO HATH EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR. 10. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.”
Now, notice the deciding factor:Verse 23 “But he that receiveth seed into the GOOD GROUND, is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some and hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Read Mt.7:15--21.)
Why are some classified as “good ground”? We read in Romans 2:11 “For there is no respect of persons (partiality) with God.” Yet, we read in Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” So carnal minded human beings are argumentative and hostile towards God’s Law, until they come to, or are brought to, a certain place in their lives in which they are willing to listen to anything God has to say to them. So, our calling, or being drawn to Christ, is all according to His awesome Plan of salvation for all of mankind, eventually.
BUT, in reading the various Scriptures we’ve covered today, it is evident that God uses some standard or criteria in His calling of those to be “firstfruits”, as we read in Romans 8:23.
It is NOT BECAUSE OF OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS or being “better” than anyone else!
From what we’ve read, it appears that God is looking for someone who has been brought to:
(1) Contriteness of heart or humility (Isa.66:2)
(2) A willingness to repent of their sins
(3) A willingness to hear what God has to say and to act on it.
(4) Unconditional surrender to God and be willing to obey Him (Acts 5:32).
It also appearsthat man, himself, has a certain responsibility in being called unto salvation, because we read in: Matthew 13:15 “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and THEIR EYES THEY HAVE CLOSED; lest at any time they shall see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
It is an absolute fact that God the Father had to “draw us” or “call us” to His Son Jesus Christ. We could not just arbitrarily make a decision to become a true Christian without that calling. We’ve known that, from our beginning in the Church, but this world and its ministers, do not have this understanding. They are like Old Testament Israel was in Deuteronomy 29:4. Notice also John 6:44 “No man (or woman) can come to Me (Christ), except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (also ver. 65)
And we should all be familiar with the very Scriptures describing our “calling”.
I Corinthians 1:26 “For you see (comprehend, perceive, understand) your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are. 29. That no flesh should glory in His presence.” There is NO ROOM FOR BOASTING HERE! It is evident that God does the calling and those who respond to that calling are given a true understanding of God’s Word.
How about you, is God calling you? If so, will you respond?