Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Holy Calling

2 Timothy 1:6-14 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

One thing that I find disconcerting with modern Christendom is its neglect of 3/4's of the Bible. They basically ignore the Old Testament and teach that it does not apply to us today - yet it is in the OT where we find many Biblical principles that are restated in the NT, many examples of God's character and care of His people, as well as see on a practical basis the difference between the living of the saved and the lost.

The book of Leviticus teaches that those who profess to be saved are to live differently from the lost world around them:

Leviticus 10:10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

Leviticus 11:44-45 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Leviticus 20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 20:26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

We know from the NT that some of the Old Testament laws are fulfilled or done away with, such as being forbidden to eat unclean animals, but what about the call to be holy? Is that just for those under the Law, just for OT saints? No, God's call for His people today is for them also to be holy. Peter quotes directly from Leviticus in his exhortations to church age believers:

1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

We are to be holy - because God is holy. Notice, this verse does not say to be AS holy as God is holy, but to be holy FOR God is holy. That is something that we can strive for and obey today.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines Holy as "Hallowed; consecrated or set apart to a sacred use, or to the service or worship of God; a sense frequent in Scripture." It is related to the words saint and sanctified, someone who is set apart for God's use, and who is to be separate from sin and evil in this world.

Strong's Concordance defines obedient in verse 15 as "from 5219; attentive hearkening, i.e. (by implication) compliance or submission." #5219 states "to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority." Part of being holy is having a submissive heart to the will of God as revealed in His Word.

Holiness is to mark each believer's life. Notice how many different ways the Lord refers to His people - all with the term holy: holy temple, holy brethren, holy priesthood, holy nation. We also have been given the Holy Spirit/Ghost and the holy Scriptures (penned by holy apostles and holy prophets/holy men of God) to enable us to live holy in this present evil world and to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. I think our Holy Father (see John 17:11) is trying to teach us something here!

2 Peter 1:1-11 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We are to be growing spiritually as believers, growing in Christian/Christlike character - and that also involves being set apart FROM this compromising, Christ-rejecting world UNTO God; to be walking with and identified with the Lord Jesus Christ who was outside the camp of this world.

Hebrews 13:11-14 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

I came across this quote on Meditate In Thy Precepts blog recently:

"Just as Israel in the Old Testament was supposed to be a separated nation (goy) of priests (Exodus 19:6), so also are Christians called to be a holy priesthood and nation (I Peter 2:9), of course in our case these are spiritual, rather than physical. Christians are, in a sense, supposed to be a separated, holy, ethnos - our culture, our customs, our ways of living, should be markedly different from that of the world around us. We don't follow the trends, we don't worship the same way, we don't use the same patterns of thought, as the world does - or at least we shouldn't. We are commanded to be separate from all that in every way... God's people must remain holy and separate. He requires it, and He also works to maintain it." (Quoted from: Holiness And Separation)

2 Peter 3:3-7 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

We are in the endtimes, and it is so obvious to the discerning believer that this is the time Peter was referring to - the time when mankind would be willingly ignorant of God's judgment of a flood upon the old world in Noah's day, and His coming judgment of fire, which will be poured out during the tribulation period.

2 Peter 3:8-10 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

The Lord Jesus Christ is still coming; I believe it will be soon - and when He does come, it will be sudden, catching most of the world off-guard. Why has He waited almost 2000 years to return for His bride, to catch us up in the air to be with Him in glory? Because He was giving fallen man one more opportunity to repent and to receive His offer of salvation. Then the events foretold will be unfolded and this world system - even the world as it is, including our atmosphere - will be burned up by fire.

2 Peter 3:11-14 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

As we await the Lord's return, we are to be diligent - to make effort, to be earnest, to endeavour - to be without spot and blameless. Without spot means "unblemished (physically or morally)" - not stained by sin! Blameless, according to Webster's 1828 Dictionary, means "Without fault; innocent; guiltless; not meriting censure." The idea here is that we don't have any skeletons in the closet, and that we make our sin right - we keep short accounts with God, and make amends with those we have sinned against.

Consider these related passages:

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Colossians 1:20-23 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Jude 1:20-25 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Colossians 1:12-14 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Are you striving to be holy, separated - different - from this lost world we live in? When the lost look at you, can they see a difference? Is it obvious to them that you are the Lord's peculiar possession - bought by Him, belonging to Him, representing Him as ambassadors of Heaven? Can they see the light of Jesus Christ shining through you out into this dark world?

"You have to be different to make a difference. You cannot change anything by adding more of the same." - Jim Berg.

Remember your calling, brethren! It is calling filled with hope in Christ, it is a high calling - but it is also a holy calling!

Written October 14th/08
(Preached October 4th/08)
Jerry Bouey

Four part series: Our Calling In Christ
Part One - The Hope Of Your Calling
Our Hope In Christ (Follow up study)
Part Two - The High Calling
Part Three - The Holy Calling
Part Four - The Heavenly Calling

1 comment:

Bill Hardecker said...

It is so very sad, that many who say they are saved look and act more like the world than they do Christ. Holiness is indeed our calling. Thank you for a wonderful post. God bless and keep up the good work.

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