CALLED TO BE SAINTS (EXCERPT OF JOHN SEVENTEEN)
From: John Seventeen
Copyright © 1991 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Each of God’s elect, His saints, has been sent into the world by the Lord Jesus just as the Father sent the Lord Jesus into the world. The Father sent Jesus into the world to bear a true witness of the Father. The Lord Jesus has sent each of His chosen into the world so he or she may bear a true witness of the Lord Jesus.
The calling of each saint is to reveal the Glory of God in Christ. This does not mean every saint is a preacher or teacher or is called to leave his job and trust in Christ for his wages. It does mean that the foremost responsibility of every member of God’s elect, his purpose for being on the earth, is to reveal Christ in his words and deeds. Every other employment is for temporary, practical purposes.
“As you sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:18)
Each of God’s elect, His saints, has been sent into the world by the Lord Jesus just as the Father sent the Lord Jesus into the world.
The Father sent Jesus into the world to bear a true witness of the Father. The Lord Jesus has sent each of His chosen into the world in order to bear a true witness of the Lord Jesus. Such is the calling of the saint.
We hear people say this Christian is called to be a doctor, or that Christian is called to be a construction worker. This is not a scriptural concept. No Christian is called to be a doctor. No Christian is called to be a construction worker.
A Christian may become a doctor or a construction worker in the leading of the Lord. This may be God’s will for him or her. We all must do heartily to the Lord what our hands find to do. But this is not our calling.
Jesus’ calling was not to be a carpenter. Paul’s calling was not to be a tentmaker. Peter’s calling was not to be a fisherman.
Daniel’s calling was not to be a ruler in Babylon. Daniel’s Divine calling was to be a saint and a prophet, a true witness of God. Jesus referred to Daniel as a prophet, not as an administrator of civic affairs, although Daniel was a high-ranking official in Babylon.
The calling of every disciple is to be a saint, a holy one, a revealer of the Nature and will of Christ. Every other employment is for practical, temporary purposes.
Our calling as a saint, a servant of the Lord, is our true, significant, eternal calling.
The Father did not send Christ into the world to be a carpenter and Jesus did not send any member of the elect into the world to be a plumber. A saint may earn his living by working as a plumber, but that is not his Divine calling. Aquila and Priscilla were not predestined to be tentmakers nor are their names included in the Word of God because of their trade.
The calling of each saint is to reveal the glory of God in Christ. This does not mean every saint is a preacher or teacher or is called to leave his job and trust in Christ for his wages. It does mean the foremost responsibility of every member of God’s elect, his purpose for being on the earth, is to reveal Christ in his life and behavior.
Each Christian is called to be part of the Light of the world.
When we study the various endowments listed in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Romans and the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians, we do not find that the Holy Spirit has given to any person the gift of picking figs or tending sheep or any other occupation in keeping with the economic life of the Middle East.
Instead we find that the Holy Spirit of God is interested in tongues, in prophecy, in teaching, in giving, in showing mercy, and so forth. These are the kinds of gifts and ministries that proceed from the Spirit.
Many human beings are born with artistic, academic, or industrial abilities. These are our human endowments. We may spend much or all of our life in such employment. Moses devoted forty years to tending sheep. Whatever we do we should do in faith as to Christ, looking to Him for wisdom and strength in every aspect of our lives.
When we are born again we receive our eternal calling. Our spirit becomes one with the Spirit of God. We enter the ranks of God’s elect. We are formed as an eternal part of the Body of Christ, the Servant of the Lord.
We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of the Anointed Deliverer. Then the Holy Spirit gives to us one or more of the talents of the Kingdom of God. As we put our talents to work we are given more talents, depending on our diligence and wisdom.
The talents of the Kingdom of God are of the Spirit of God. They are supernatural in origin. However, whatever is before us to do in assisting the work of the Lord, whether it be giving, serving, building, helping, is considered a talent for which we will be held responsible even though it is not a spiritual gift. Musical ability is included in the category of nonspiritual gifts.
But the gifts of the Spirit of God are supernatural in origin, not inherited as are human “talents.”
Many people of the world are highly gifted. Such gifts and talents are of the soul. The gifts and talents of the members of the Body of Christ proceed from the Holy Spirit of God, not from the soul or training of a human being.
In our day, the human talent of music has been employed so widely in the work of the Gospel that it is viewed as though it were the work of the Holy Spirit. The truth is, music often is used to compensate for the lack of the Spirit of God.
Any true gift of the Spirit will build up the Body of Christ. However, an oratorio or solo, no matter how expertly performed, may do nothing more than entertain the believers and lead them away from the Spirit of God.
Music plays an important role in the activities of the Christian churches just as it will throughout eternity in the Kingdom of God. In our day the Holy Spirit is adding pageantry, mime, drama, and other artistic expressions because of the need for a more active participation in worship, a more vibrant and demanding expression of the things of the Gospel. Because of the intensity of evil in our environment a church service must consist of much more than the routine singing of a few hymns from a hymnbook followed by a lecture from the pulpit. There must be increasing fire and life during the assemblings if the saints are to stand spiritually in the present darkness.
Artistic and triumphant expression will strengthen and guide the worshipers only if it is anointed by the Spirit of God. It is the responsibility of the elders of the assembling to carefully observe every activity, endorsing and strengthening that which they discern to be of the Spirit of God and preventing that with which they feel uncomfortable. Satan and his demons are always ready to add a few activities of their own, following on the heels of that which the Spirit has provided.
The elders must be strong in the Lord and the people must be obedient to the elders if the several musical and dramatic expressions are to result in true worship and effective portrayal of the Word and will of God. Unprofitable exhibitions, such as rolling on the floor, making animal sounds, unseemly or immoral actions, are to be stopped lovingly but firmly. No assembling of saints ever is to be out of the control of the elders. Either the meeting will be guided by godly, experienced elders or the meeting will guide the elders. When the meeting begins to guide the elders it will not be long before there are demonic manifestations.
The doctrine of Divine calling is crucial to our understanding. The economic opportunities of the world have become so varied and absorbing that the saints are beginning to suppose God has called them to be teachers or administrators or sales engineers. This is not the case. God has called each member of the elect to be a saint, to be a contributing member of the Body of the Anointed Deliverer.
A believer may be tempted to accept the doctrine that he has been called to nursing or agriculture, or to some other occupation needed by the developing nations of the world, with the idea in mind of using the occupation to evangelize those countries. The world is quick to endorse any Christian who gives of his energies and abilities to contribute to the betterment of mankind.
In some instances the Spirit of God may lead an individual to utilize a natural talent or human training in order to gain access to a country or to help people better their health or their living conditions.
But it was not Jesus’ carpentry or Peter’s fishing or Paul’s tentmaking, that opened the doors before them or brought about eternal value. It was not their proficiency in an occupation that formed their Christian testimony. It was the signs and wonders performed by Christ and the Apostles that announced their Divine mission.
It was the healing virtue of Jesus accompanying Peter, not the smell of fish on his garments, that brought the crowds into the streets where he passed.
The same is true today.
Our calling as Christians is not to better the living conditions of mankind, neither is it to demonstrate we are more capable athletes or more successful salesmen. Our calling as Christians is to bear a true and faithful witness of the Person and will of God in Christ. We command people everywhere to repent, by what we are and by what we do and say.
If people will repent and serve the Lord, their living conditions ordinarily will improve. Or, they may be persecuted and die for their faith. In that instance we have not improved their living conditions at all. We have brought suffering and death to them.
We are not called to bless the world or to make it comfortable. We are called to rebuke the world, to warn it of the Day of Wrath that is on the horizon. When we cease to do this we are false prophets. We are not true friends of the peoples of the world when we refuse to warn them of the terror of the Day of the Lord or to point them to Christ as the only way of salvation.
The saint who fails to warn the world of the wrath of God, or to point to the crucified and risen Christ as the only hope of salvation from that wrath, is the worst, the deadliest enemy of the nations of the earth. He has failed to fulfill his calling. He is of no use to the world and he is of no use to God. He is fit only for the garbage heap. There he will be placed by the world and by the Lord.
When we look to the Lord He shows us how and when to bear witness of His salvation.
The world of today is blind. The nations are bound in mind, spirit, soul, and body by Satan. They are destroying themselves while they are groping for truth, for justice, for peace, for joy.
The only source of truth, justice, peace, and joy is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ has sent us into the world so that through His Spirit we may continue His work of destroying the works of the devil. It is only through the destruction of the works of the devil that truth, justice, peace, and joy can come into the world.
We saints, as Christ dwells in us, are the light of the world and the only light of the world. The world never will be released into the liberty of the glory of the children of God until the Church has been made one in Christ in the Father.
The horrible condition of the world today is not the fault of the world. The world is being victimized by Satan, and only Christ dwelling in the saints is able to overcome Satan. The churches are not to be waiting for the world to repent. It is the world that must wait until the churches repent.
God’s people will have to repent of their sin and self-seeking before Christ will be able to release the nations through them. It is God’s people who must repent.
Each of us deplores the condition of the world of today. Each of us ought to be willing to do what he can to make a better world in which people can live in righteousness, peace, and joy.
However, this can be done neither through humanistic endeavors nor through alliances with secular organizations. Only by the Spirit of Christ working in the saints can righteousness, peace, and joy be brought to the nations of the earth.
The greatest assistance any member of the Body of Christ can give the world is to seek the Lord with his whole heart. Our occupation in the world provides food and shelter for us and for those who are dependent on us. But such necessary work is our practical responsibility, not our calling.
God the Father did not send the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to make better chairs and tables for the inhabitants of Nazareth, or to clean up the corruption in the palace of the Caesars, or even to multiply bread for the hungry of Jerusalem.
God the Father sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world in order to destroy the works of the devil; to loose human beings from the power of Satan and bring them into union with God. God desires obedience to His will and praise to His holy name on the part of all the peoples of the earth. We are to pray that such obedience and praise come into being.
He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8)
The world and the worldly churches profess to be greatly occupied with the physical needs of mankind. But many charitable institutions are seeking their own glory it appears.
God is very concerned about the sin and rebellion in the world. God could remedy the physical problems of any nation in a moment of time to an extent a million workers could not duplicate in one hundred years. God possesses that kind of power. God easily could heal every sick person in the world if He chose to do so.
Why does God not alleviate the ills of mankind? It is because He is concerned primarily with the problem of sin. It was sin that crucified the Son of God. As soon as sin has been overcome, the physical circumstances can be remedied easily and quickly.
The Lord Jesus Christ has sent you and me into the world just as the Father sent Him into the world. The world and the worldly churches will not embrace us when they discover Christ is in us. They will reject us. They will hate us. They will persecute and kill us until the hour when the Father opens the eyes of the nations so they may believe (John 17:21).
Let us recognize, therefore, that we are not friends of the world at this time. We are the witnesses whom God has appointed to reveal His Christ, His Nature, His will to the peoples of the world. Let us not become absorbed in repairing pipes or selling cars to the point we forget that our calling in life is to bear the holy anointing oil of our God, to show forth the praise of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
“And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:19)
Christ had every right to lead a normal life. He was a righteous, law-abiding Jew. The promises of long life and abundance of material blessings were His. Under the Law he deserved to pursue His trade of carpentry, build a home, buy some livestock, marry a wife, and settle down to enjoy the respect of His neighbors, children, and grandchildren.
If Jesus had done this the witness would not have been borne, the atonement would not have been made. You and I would be dead in our sins.
Instead He sanctified Himself. He set Himself apart to the service of God. He bore witness to the truth. The truth of Christ has set you and me apart today—many centuries later.
Saul of Tarsus had every right to lead a normal life. After his conversion he continued to be a righteous, Law-observing Jew. The promises of long life and abundance of blessings were his. Saul deserved to pursue his trade of tentmaking, buy a home, marry a wife, and pass his days enjoying his family and the work of his hands (Ecclesiastes 2:24).
But Christ sanctified Paul to the work of the Gospel. Therefore this righteous Jew was denied the material blessings the Scripture promises to the righteous Israelite (Deuteronomy 28:1-13).
Paul suffered much hardship as we know. He spent his latter days in prison writing his Epistles. But no human being could estimate the amount of spiritual fruit borne by the Epistles of Paul.
How about you and me? We have a “right” to lead a normal, average life. We can choose to walk in the righteous ways of the Scriptures. The promises of long life and abundance of material blessings are ours if we cease our sinning. We can pursue our “vocation,” buy a house, and spend our time enjoying the good things of the world (provided we live in one of the wealthy nations of the world).
But if we save our life we will lose it. In addition, we will bear no eternal fruit. Those persons—perhaps some yet unborn—who would have been created as eternal servants of God will live out their lives in darkness while we are occupying ourselves with making money, buying a new car, mowing the grass, looking for new furniture, and otherwise hiding our spiritual light under the bushels of materialism.
Each member of the Body of Christ has been called to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ to the world. In addition he has been given one or more talents by the Holy Spirit at the time of his new birth.
How does the believer, particularly of the affluent nations, determine what his or her talents are?
In the first place, he must recognize that the members of a wealthy culture are at a disadvantage in the Kingdom of God. The Gospel is to be preached to the poor. It is the poor who are the heirs of the Kingdom of God (Luke 6:20; James 2:5).
The abundance of the material environment makes it difficult for the believer to determine his role in the Kingdom of God. The world expends time and energy attempting to convince him he must buy this or that. But he can never possess these “needed” things. They will possess him. They will dictate his joy and sorrow. They will determine the use of his time. They will require his attention and energy.
Each saint must wrench himself away from the distractions of the surrounding culture. He must seize the time and energy to seek the Face of God continually. He must turn away deliberately from the material and seek the spiritual. Such an action requires strength and wisdom on the part of the saint, and God will provide such strength and wisdom if they are requested.
The disciple must present his physical body a living sacrifice. Only by doing this can any individual prove the will of God for his life.
It is not easy to find our place in the Kingdom of God. It requires a determined, energetic approach. The world, Satan, our friends, our flesh, our self-will—all conspire to pull our attention down to the pleasures and problems of the world.
Sometimes the saint must struggle upward alone in the night, as it were. The whole world appears to be against him as he struggles with God.
It is only as we make a total effort to seek the will of God that we begin to recognize the Divine plan for our life. What is at stake is our crown. It is the crown, the reward, the rulership, that our adversaries would take from us.
In the affluent nations it nearly is impossible to develop one’s calling. Riches are so deceitful! It requires all the consecration that can be exercised by the most convinced and dedicated believer if he is to escape the crushing imprisonment and death that result from excessive involvement in the things of the world.
Truly, the Gospel is to the poor. God has chosen the poor of the world but who are rich in faith, as was true of the Christians in Smyrna, to inherit the Kingdom of God.
There is much deception in the land today. “Preachers of the Gospel” are proclaiming to a people already destroyed by excessive concern with material possessions that if they will only believe they can gain more money, more things, more “chains.” Are these men apostles of Christ? We do not believe they are. We do not believe Christ has sent them or that they are proclaiming Christ’s will.
What are we to do in an age of error? Each of us must do as Jesus did, for as He is, so are we in the world. We must set ourselves apart for Christ so other people also may be set apart for Christ. We must continue in Christ’s love so others may become one with us in Christ in God.
We must purify ourselves from all sin and self-seeking. We must devote ourselves to the work of the Lord. The talent the Lord gave us may appear to be small and unimportant. But no talent from the Lord is unimportant. The Holy Spirit who gives us the talents of the Kingdom of God has a purpose in all He does.
If we will diligently employ in the work of the Kingdom what we have been given, the Lord will entrust us with greater responsibilities. We can gain “ten talents” if we will give ourselves to the tasks at hand. Such diligence and faithfulness please the Lord very much.
Many—perhaps most—of God’s people have little idea what their roles are in the Body of Christ, in the Kingdom of God. There may be several excuses for such ignorance, but the Kingdom suffers as a result. It is important in the present hour that each saint begin to do something about his or her responsibility in the Kingdom.
- “I have a wife and family.”
- “I am too young.”
- “I am too old.”
- “I am not trained.”
- “I am too busy!”
- “I will do the Lord’s will when I retire.”
On and on the excuses go but God accepts none of them. The point is, we are to seek first the Kingdom of God. Otherwise our crown will be removed from our head and placed on the head of another who is faithful to the Words of Christ.
The world rocks along toward the reign of Antichrist. Millions are born and millions die. Moral filth is increasing. A tiny minority has been entrusted with the Word of God. God requires that those who have been so entrusted lay aside all diversions and recognize that being a saint is a full-time calling.
Each member of the Body of Christ has been called to the work of the Kingdom of God. This is his responsibility in the world, the meaning of his life.
We can choose to set ourselves apart to growth into sainthood, to the responsibility and work of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth. If we do, we will lose our life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s and gain eternal life and fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God.
We can choose to make our occupation in the world the focus of our time and energy. We may gain friends, acclaim, material wealth, every physical comfort. We can portion out some of this gain for the work of the Gospel when such giving does not require a painful sacrifice on our part.
The moment we die physically our choices will be evaluated. The believer who has dedicated his life to the work of the Kingdom will be greeted joyfully by Christ. He will be welcomed to the fellowship of the saints, to the ranks of those who also have dedicated their lives to the work of the Kingdom of God. His gladness of heart will know no bounds.
But the believer who has struggled so laboriously with the affairs of the world will recognize immediately he has been deceived. His dedication to the world and neglect of spiritual values will be revealed for all to behold.
One of the most searing pangs of Hell will be the bitter remorse over opportunities forever lost. To think we could have spent our life for eternal gain! Instead, we so foolishly chose to occupy ourselves with tinsel, baubles, the cackling approval of worldlings. What sharp claws will tear our soul in that moment! It could have been so different. So different.
Let the foolish among us choose to occupy their time and strength with the visible world—that which will be done away when the universe is consumed in God’s fire.
Let the wise among us choose to set ourselves apart to the Kingdom of God. As we do so a multitude of others also will be set apart to God by means of the truth our life has become through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(“Called to Be Saints”, 3828-1)