Friday, October 03, 2008

The Hope Of Your Calling

I was reading an encouraging devotional this morning over at Julie's Jewels where Sis Julie reminds of us our high calling in Christ, and that in turn reminded me of a message I have been wanting to tackle for some time now. In the New Testament, we see four different phrases in regards to our calling as believers:

1) The Hope Of Your Calling - Ephesians 1:18; 4:4

2) The High Calling - Philippians 3:14

3) The Holy Calling - 2 Timothy 1:9

4) The Heavenly Calling - Hebrews 3:1

Originally, I was going to tackle these all as one devotion, but as I started to dig deeper, I realized these passages/themes were too rich to mention in passing. I have decided to do one devotion on each theme. I was scheduled to preach at lunch time at the Mission today, but we had some unexpected (at least to me) visitors coming in, so I have decided to preach the supper devotional. That gave me a bit more time to develop the first point.

The Hope Of Your Calling

One aspect of Paul's ministry that had been a tremendous encouragement for believers in the first century, and has been for multitudes of other believers throughout history and even in our day, is his prayers for the saints, his supplications for his fellow brethren in Christ. He wanted to remind them of who they are and what they have in Christ, as well as exhort them to grow in discernment and appreciation for the Word of God and the things of God. These prayers can be found scattered throughout some of his epistles.

In Ephesians chapter one, we see Paul's prayer for the believers in that local church in Ephesus:

Ephesians 1:15-23 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Paul's prayer was that these first-century believers - and we can certainly apply this to us today - would know the hope of their calling in Christ, that they would understand their inheritance in the Saviour, and that they would see God's great power at work in their lives.

Hope in the Bible is defined as a "confident expectation." God will fulfill His promises and do what He has said. He is faithful. His Word is sure; therefore we can confidently look forward to what He has in store for us in Heaven, as well as His plans for us here and now.

Ephesians 4:2-6 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

One of the seven things Paul mentions about the unity of the Spirit is the one hope of their calling. Paul wants the believers in each local church to be united together through the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Word of God, and in the midst of the unity of the Trinity (one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father), one body (whether referring to the unity of the local church, or the future unity we will have as one body in Heaven) and one baptism (water baptism, which is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and our public identification with Him), he emphasizes one faith (THE faith - there is only one true faith - as much as the liberals want to teach otherwise, there can be no compromise on the fundamentals of the faith) and one hope. This hope is the assurance we have in Christ, encompassing many things, but especially His return for His saints and the inheritance we have in Him.

Romans 8:14-23 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

We can have the confident expectation that as we suffer for Christ (as the passage above states, suffer with Him), we will also have the assurance that we will share in His glory and in His inheritance. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns, this cursed creation will be transformed, and the curse of sin will be removed. Along with that, we will also find that our sin nature will be removed. This is what is referred to in the phrase, the redemption of our body. We will be given a glorified body, like our Lord's body - we will be made like Him. No more struggling with sin! If you are tired of struggling with your flesh, as I am, then I am sure you will confidently look forward to the return of your Saviour!

Colossians 1:3-6 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

We can confidently expect that God has something wondrous in store for us in Heaven. We cannot imagine what Heaven will be like - but we can behold glimpses in the Scriptures of what the future holds for us:

1 Corinthians 2:9-11 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Are you searching the Scriptures for these glimpses of Heaven and our inheritance in Christ? While other passages talk about the rewards faithful believers will have (and unfaithful ones may lose), an inheritance is something that does not depend upon our behaviour. I am glad for that, because there are many times I just don't measure up - however, I know the Lord still has great things planned in store for all His children.

Paul's prayer in Ephesians was that the believers would understand their inheritance in Christ. He develops this idea further in Colossians 2:

Colossians 2:2-3 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Full assurance means "entire confidence; to be completely assured or convinced." Do we as believers understand our inheritance in Christ? Can you imagine how this full assurance of who we are and what we have in Christ can transform our walks? Yes, we will have struggles and trials - but there is something so glorious laid up for us in Heaven. Are you confidently expecting this? Are you excited about the hope of your calling?

October 3rd/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


Sis. Julie said...

Amen!!! What a blessing to read this!! I always enjoy reading what God gives you Bro. Jerry. You go into so much more depth and detail than I do. Not sure why God doesn't give me all that He gives you...maybe it is because you are a preacher and He always speaks to the man of God in a deeper way. Whatever the reason for Him not doing that for me...I'm so thankful for men like you who He does give such things to.

Jerry Bouey said...

I think you hit the nail on the head.

Titus 1:3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

The times I get the most out of the Scriptures is when I am digging into the Bible to prepare a message - and God's Word just opens up. Sometimes it is like, "I never saw that in there before!" If I am just reading or looking up some words here and there (but not necessarily indepth for a message), I get fed, but it is not always a feast. But when the Holy Spirit puts some passage or theme on my heart to share at the Mission, sometimes I have to spend time prayerfully deciding what not to cover - as there is so much in His Word, and not enough time to preach it all (not yet, maybe in eternity!).

Sometimes I wonder why it seems other believers don't spend as much time digging into the Word, or spend untold hours with a Concordance or Bible program (looking up every occasion for a word or phrase), then I remember, God has called me to preach; therefore He has given me a tremendous thirst to know (I want to say, master, but I am not sure if that would be the right term) this Book. I get an idea, an issue, a theme, a passage that intrigues me, and I literally can't let it go until I exhaust it (at least for now!).

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Several days ago, a coworker and I were reading 1 Corinthians 1-6, and this verse made an impact on him, so we discussed it:

1 Corinthians 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

I have this thirst to study indepth - to keep digging, and this bulldog tenacity that won't quit when I want to learn or know something - because God put it in there. I can't boast, but I can praise Him for giving me this thirst, then quenching as I sip deeply from His Word. Hope that made sense.

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