<h1>'Called, Chosen and Faithful'</h1> <div id="pnlArticleMetaData"><span class="authors">by Roger Foster</span> <span class="reading-time">Estimated reading time: 15 minutes.</span> <span class="posted-date">Posted on <strong>4-Jan-1996</strong></span> </div> <div id="pnlArticleTeaserText">What sets apart an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ? </div> <span id="ArticleSpan"><P>What distinguishes an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ? There are literally hundreds of Christian religious groups. Each regards itself as distinct-possessing that special something that gives it the edge with God. Most &ldquo;Christian&rdquo; groups represent themselves as people with a &ldquo;calling,&rdquo; or as the &ldquo;chosen&rdquo; of Lord. Even many non-Christian religious groups regard themselves as the &ldquo;chosen&rdquo; of God. When viewed from a distance the whole religious scene is confusing. No wonder millions are suspicious of all religion. Is it possible to sort the truth from this apparent religious&nbsp;chaos?</P> <P>Absolutely! Providing we are willing to take an honest look at the&nbsp;facts.</P> <P>Jesus Christ is real! His impact on this world has exceeded that of any other man who ever lived. Everybody is familiar with His name. But who knows what He taught-what His real mission was? Who are the people that truly represent Him today? What makes them&nbsp;different?</P> <P>Jesus said, &ldquo;I will build my church.&rdquo; The Greek word for &ldquo;church&rdquo; is ekklesia. It means &ldquo;a calling out&rdquo; or &ldquo;called out ones.&rdquo; But He warned that &ldquo;narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it&rdquo; (Matthew 7:14).</P> <P>Shocking? Maybe to some! Most people just ignore what Jesus says if they don&rsquo;t like it. Nevertheless, Jesus tells those who wish to be His true disciples that they must &ldquo;Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it&rdquo; (Matthew 7:13).</P> <P>Even if one becomes an authentic disciple of Christ, the danger of being swept back into the clutches of Satan, the arch adversary of all who would be godly, seems to lurk everywhere. The apostle Paul expressed his apprehension for those converted to the Christian faith under his ministry: &ldquo;But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent&rsquo;s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.&rdquo; (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, New International&nbsp;Version).</P> <H3>Counterfeit&nbsp;righteousness</H3> <P>Paul was amazed at how easily people threw away his teachings to believe a fraudulent gospel, embrace a deceptive spirit or even accept a counterfeit Messiah. Satan is a master deceiver. Far too many people are easy victims-even after they have embraced the truth. They are enticed by persuasive teachers hawking a counterfeit righteousness. &ldquo;For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness&rdquo; (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, NIV)</P> <P>No wonder so many varieties of &ldquo;righteousness&rdquo; are taught under the name of Jesus Christ. His name serves as a mask for religious philosophies that never originated with Him or His apostles. Jesus said, &ldquo;Many will say to Me in that day, &lsquo;Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?&rsquo; And then I will declare to them, &lsquo;I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!&rsquo;&rdquo; (Matthew 7:22-23). Practicing lawlessness discounts all other good deeds one&nbsp;performs.</P> <P>Astonishing? Yes! But Jesus declares that it is absolutely true. Lawlessness, the key ingredient in the counterfeit &ldquo;righteousness&rdquo; of these false gospels, is nothing more than a natural expression of what we call human nature. Under the influence of Satan, the &ldquo;god of this age,&rdquo; mankind has been blinded (2 Corinthians 4:4). Human nature does not want to obey&nbsp;God.</P> <P>Paul wrote, &ldquo;The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God&rsquo;s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God&rdquo; (Romans 8:7-8 NIV). In other words, alternatives to the true message of Jesus Christ have been devised to accommodate the natural human unwillingness to obey&nbsp;God.</P> <P>Sadly, most people who accept these lawless precepts are sincere. They believe their delusions. &ldquo;The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie&rdquo; (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11).</P> <P>Now, back to our original question? What sets apart an authentic disciple of Jesus&nbsp;Christ?</P> <H3>&ldquo;Called&rdquo; and&nbsp;&ldquo;Chosen&rdquo;</H3> <P>The idea that one must be &ldquo;called&rdquo; and &ldquo;chosen&rdquo; originates with Jesus Himself. He told His disciples, &ldquo;For many are called, but few are chosen&rdquo; (Matthew 22:14). &ldquo;Called&rdquo; and &ldquo;chosen&rdquo; are legitimate biblical concepts. But they are rarely understood and incredibly misused. Let&rsquo;s get it&nbsp;straight!</P> <P>Many are called. Few are chosen. That&rsquo;s what Jesus said. But what did He&nbsp;mean?</P> <P>God&rsquo;s great purpose is to give salvation-eternal life-to all mankind. &ldquo;For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved&rdquo; (John 3:17). However, all are not being saved at this time, in this age (Ephesians 1:7-10).</P> <P>God chooses a person to receive eternal life only when one learns and accepts the truth! Truth is that knowledge revealed by God through His Word, the Bible (John 17:17). All must learn and accept the truth. &ldquo;Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men...For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth&rdquo; (1 Timothy 2:1-4).</P> <H3>All must&nbsp;repent</H3> <P>After learning what is the truth, one must repent. &ldquo;The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance&rdquo; (2 Peter 3:9). All must repent, said Peter.</P> <P>Real repentance results from an accurate understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How can one receive this understanding? &ldquo;How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?&rdquo; (Romans 10:14-15). How clear. One must be taught by ministers who are truly sent by God-ministers who do not teach lawlessness. Ministers who are faithful to God&rsquo;s word. Who teach obedience to God. Who teach that repentance is to cease from sin-to quit transgressing God&rsquo;s laws (1 John 3:4).</P> <P>Now let&rsquo;s examine the difference between called and&nbsp;chosen.</P> <P>&ldquo;But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ&rdquo; (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).</P> <P>There it is! People are &ldquo;called&rdquo; (&ldquo;invited&rdquo; in the Greek) by the preaching of the gospel (the good news of the Kingdom of God). They receive the knowledge they need to repent of their&nbsp;sins.</P> <P>Those who respond are &ldquo;chosen&rdquo; for salvation. How? By believing the truth and by being sanctified (set apart) by receiving the Holy&nbsp;Spirit.</P> <H3>Different responses to&nbsp;gospel</H3> <P>It is really a sorting out process that begins with a miracle from&nbsp;God.</P> <P>Jesus said, &ldquo;No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him ...&rdquo; (John 6:44). Then He adds, &ldquo;Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father&rdquo; (verse 65). God draws our hearts toward Him. He grants us the desire to learn His ways, to submit our wills to Him. We naturally resist submitting to God&rsquo;s laws (Romans 8:7). Yielding our will to God is truly a miracle, &ldquo;for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure&rdquo; (Philippians 2:13.)</P> <P>Jesus uses the parable of the sower and the seed to illustrate how people respond to the gospel differently. In the parable, all hear the truth of God&rsquo;s word preached. Only those who are called by God grasp the truth and understand it. Each responds differently. You can read the parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13. Jesus not only gives the parable, but He also tells what it&nbsp;means.</P> <P>First He explains the response of those who are not yet being called. They do not grasp what they hear. &ldquo;When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside&rdquo; (verse 19). Such people never understand the message and its&nbsp;significance.</P> <P>Next, He explains three different responses from those who do understand. God has opened their minds. They grasp the meaning. But each one responds differently, and for different reasons. &ldquo;But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles&rdquo; (verses&nbsp;20-21).</P> <H3>Retreat from&nbsp;calling</H3> <P>His first response is joyful acceptance. But he quickly retreats. Why? Because of pressure from other people who do not understand. He cares more about what people think than what God thinks. He is afraid to &ldquo;make waves&rdquo; or &ldquo;rock the boat.&rdquo; Conforming to his peers is what is important to him. The &ldquo;tribulation or persecution&rdquo; he experiences from trying to live God&rsquo;s way of life causes him to stumble. He rejects the calling from&nbsp;God.</P> <P>&ldquo;Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful&rdquo; (verse&nbsp;22).</P> <P>This person is not as concerned about the opinions of his peers. Personal selfishness is his problem. Maintaining his status and acquiring personal possessions consume all his interest, time and energy. He has no time for God. He is too busy serving himself. Material things are far more important than spiritual matters. He, too, rejects the calling from&nbsp;God.</P> <P>&ldquo;But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty&rdquo; (verse&nbsp;23).</P> <P>This person understands God&rsquo;s word and takes it seriously. He puts it into practice. He changes his life! This person was chosen for salvation. He put God first in his&nbsp;life.</P> <P>Many are called. Many receive the opportunity for God to work in them &ldquo;to will and to do for His good pleasure&rdquo; (Philippians 2:13). Only a few respond. Those few truly repent and surrender their wills to God. They make a commitment to obey God&rsquo;s commandments. Those who respond to God&rsquo;s &ldquo;calling&rdquo; are chosen by God because they choose to serve&nbsp;God.</P> <H3>You must remain&nbsp;faithful!</H3> <P>When God offers us an opportunity to serve Him, the choice is ours. That choice is not a one-time decision. We must maintain that choice and persevere to the end (Matthew 24:13). The book of Revelation describes the end of this age when a great &ldquo;beast&rdquo;-a political and economic union of ten &ldquo;kings&rdquo;-will resist the rule of Jesus Christ at his return. These rulers will be the most influential and popular leaders in the entire world at that time. &ldquo;These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful&rdquo; (Revelation 17:12-14).</P> <P>That&rsquo;s right! Those who are with Christ are not only called and chosen but they are also faithful. Being &ldquo;called&rdquo; and &ldquo;chosen&rdquo; is not the end of the story. &ldquo;For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: &lsquo;A dog returns to his own vomit,&rsquo; and, &lsquo;a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire&rsquo; &rdquo; (2 Peter 2:20-22). Salvation isn&rsquo;t automatic. We must remain faithful to our calling to be&nbsp;saved.</P> <P>Jesus compares Himself to a vine and His true followers to the branches. He says, &ldquo;Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing&rdquo; (John 15:4-5). He warns, &ldquo;If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned&rdquo; (verse&nbsp;6).</P> <H3>Grow to be like&nbsp;Christ</H3> <P>Those who remain faithful will grow to be like Jesus Christ spiritually. &ldquo;By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples&rdquo; (verse 8). He adds, &ldquo;Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit&rdquo; (verse 2). God remains active in the lives of those He has chosen for salvation. He expects them to remain faithful to their commitment to Him and produce spiritual fruit in their lives. He even &ldquo;prunes&rdquo; them. He allows trials to develop that test and expose their weaknesses. It forces them to continue making choices to obey God-sometimes under very difficult&nbsp;circumstances.</P> <P>What fruit does God expect the authentic disciples of Jesus Christ to manifest in their lives? He expects them to obey His commandments (1 John 2:3-6). He expects them to set an example in &ldquo;love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control&rdquo; (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV). He expects them to exhibit the basic characteristics of his own divine nature-the very character of&nbsp;God.</P> <P>The apostle Peter sums it up so well. &ldquo;... To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and&nbsp;goodness.</P> <P>&ldquo;Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness,&nbsp;love.</P> <P>&ldquo;For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ&rdquo; (2 Peter 1:1-11, NIV).</P> <P>God has made it abundantly clear what His authentic disciples are. They are called to surrender their wills to God&mdash;to repent and receive God&rsquo;s Holy Spirit. Because they choose to allow God&rsquo;s Spirit to guide both their hearts and their conduct they are chosen for salvation&mdash;to have a part in His eternal kingdom. They prove their faithfulness by enduring trials and obstacles as evidence of their continued commitment to obey God. As truly converted people they are &ldquo;the body of Christ&rdquo; (1 Corinthians 12:27) and &ldquo;the church of the living God&rdquo; (1 Timothy 3:15).</P> <P>They are called, chosen and&nbsp;faithful!&nbsp;</P></span>
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