Friday, January 25, 2013

Chosen, Called and Committed People

Colossians 3:10 "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience"

Preparing a chosen, called and committed people of God
As Moses was preaching to a whole new generation of Israelites, he was in the final year of his 120 year old life. His purpose was to prepare the people for their entry into the promised land - a journey in which they would be taking in the book of Joshua. He also needed to remind them of who they are and whose they are, since God had led there forefathers out of Egypt. As you go through Deuteronomy 7-10, as well as the rest of scripture, you begin to see the redemptive identity of God's people.  For example...
(Chosen People) Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

(Called People) Deuteronomy 7:8 "but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt."

(Committed People) Deuteronomy 7:12 “Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them."

The New Testament performs a similar function, preparing God's church, composed of true born-again Christians, for life through this world and eternity with the Lord. (John 17; Ephesians 4) In today's blog I want to outline for you what Moses discusses and the rest of scripture explains God's people to be: namely a chosen, called and committed people.

Chosen, Called and Committed People in Deuteronomy
As you may had notice in the verse above, I underlined key phrases that correspond to the people of God's three-fold identity as chosen, called and committed people.  Deuteronomy 7-10 has Moses repeating this identity over and over again.  If you would like to see the details of Moses' argument for this, I invite you to look at the footnotes at the end of this post.1  God's calling of course simply refers to the summons He gives to His people to come to Him, such as His calling out to Adam in the Garden, Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees, Israel at Sinai and Jesus' calling to His church.  Ephesians 4:1 tells us to walk worthy of the calling God has given to us.  Commitment is our part.  We have responsibility to do as the Lord commands, to love the Lord our God, share the Gospel and live Godly holy lives. (John 14:15, Mark 12:28-34, Matthew 28:18-20 and 1 Peter 2:11-12)  Those two words "calling" and "commitment" are straight forward ideas - but what is the back drop of them? As we saw already in our opening text, God's choosing or election. 

What is meant by God's election or choosing?
God's choosing of His people simply means He set His affection and love upon them. When God elects people, it means that what He intended to begin, He will finish. Philippians 1:6 states: "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:10 notes - "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."  In fact, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 defines election or God's choosing as "The Gracious Purpose of God":

"Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility." Over 130 places in the Old Testament and 75 places in the New Testament refer to God's choosing or Sovereign Election, which functions as the backdrop to salvation, God's choice of Israel over all the nations and Jesus as God's choice Messiah.

What election is not: Two very important points
We have discussed already what election is.2 Now we need to discuss what election is not. First and foremost,  Election is not God choosing or electing some people to go to Hell.  According to Acts 13:46, the people to whom Paul was speaking "judged themselves unworthy to receive eternal life".  Election has everything to do with salvation or vocation, and nothing to do with God actively condemning people to Hell.  Thus the fault of anybody going to hell lies in the decision of that person.3  Secondly, Election has nothing to do with certain babies nor little children dying and going to hell. Everyone from David (2 Samuel 12:23) to Jesus (Matthew 19; Mark 10; Luke 18) teaches of the special grace God has on children prior to the age of accountability. Any person or group that would advocate God sending certain children to hell have greatly mishandled the doctrine of election.

God's basis for election or choosing is His loving merciful purposes
Moses and God's word repeatedly describes God's people as a chosen, or elect people.  As a chosen people, Old or New Testament revelation tells us that the basis for election is God's merciful love. 

1. Deuteronomy 7:7-8 tells us: “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples".  Think of the nations God had at his disposal at the time He chose Israel.3 Yet God chose these people.  Why? Deuteronomy 7:8 says it all: "but because the LORD loved you....4

2. Deuteronomy 10:12 “Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day."  Again the basis for God's choosing of Israel as a people and a nation was based soley on His loving mercy.  This is why even today Israel is often called "God's chosen people".

3. Romans 9:14 "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy." Let God be God - that's Paul's whole point in Romans 9. His loving and merciful purposes are the only reasons for His choosing anyone. 

4. 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 "but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are" .   Just like the Israelites in the Old Testament, the basis for God's choosing Christians lies not in them, for we had nothing to offer nor contribute.  God's choice of His people had only one basis: His merciful loving purpose of Grace. 

5. Ephesians 1:4 "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love"  God's choice of His people is based upon His loving intent. What He intends to begin, He finishes. 

6. Colossians 3:12  "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." This is a great verse, since in it we see the chosen people of God, holy and beloved, called to be commited to compassion, kindness and humility.

7. 1 John 4:19 "We love, because He first loved us.Can we make it any plainer? Loving mercy is the basis for God's electing choice. 

So then God's choosing or election is rooted in His loving purpose of Grace, and is intended to finish what He decided to begin. 

In scripture, God's choice is the backdrop of His calling, and His calling to us is why we can commit
I find throughout scripture this repetition of choosing, calling and commitment.  As suggested, God's choosing is the backdrop of His calling, and His calling to us is why we can commit.5  No doubt Moses reinforces this three-fold theme as a three-braided rope that reinforces the believer's identity.  Furthermore,  throughout the rest of scripture we see these three themes put together.  Below are some noteable examples with headings....

1. John 15:12-17 Jesus calls His disciples committed, called and chosen people
(Committed people) 12This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14“You are My friends if you do what I command you.

(Called people) 15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

(Chosen People) 16“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17“This I command you, that you love one another.

2. The Apostle Paul refers to Christians as Chosen, Called and Committed people - 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15
(Chosen People) 2 Thess 2:13 "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth."

(Called People) 2 Thess 2:14 "It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

(Committed People) 2 Thess 2:15 "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us."

3. The Apostle Peter calls Christians chosen, called and committed people - 1 Peter 2:9-12

(Chosen People) 1 Peter 2:9a "But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION....."

(Called People) 1 Peter 2:9b "so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY."

(Committed People) 1 Peter 2:10-11 "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."

End Notes
1In fact I find six cycles of repetition within Deuteronomy 7-10. Like any good preacher, Moses is repeating his points to reinforce in the hearts and minds of his listeners who they are and whose they:

Chosen People              Called People           Committed People
Deuteronomy 7:1-7        Deuteronomy 7:8-10   Deuteronomy 7:11-12
Deuteronomy 7:13-16    Deut 7:11-16               Deut 7:17-8:1
Deut 8:2a                       Deut 8:2b-5                 Deut 6-14
Deut 8:15-20                  Deut 9:1-2                   Deut 9:3-5
Deut 9:6-29                    Deut 9:6-29                 Deut 10:1-11
Deut 10:12-15                Deut 10:16-17             Deut 10:19-22

2. God's election in the Bible deals with the salvation of people (Acts 13:48), His choice of Israel as a nation (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Amos 3:1-4) and Jesus Christ as the Chosen One or Messiah who would die and rise again for sin (over 109 Old Testament prophecies testify to this) .

3. Furthermore, God is not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and He of course grieves when any person dies in their sins and chooses to reject Him. (Ezekiel 33:11)

4. There was mighty Egypt, the empire of wealth who influence stretched from Northern Africa up into the Northern Arabian Penninsula. There was the gorwing empires of Assyria and Babylon, known for their antiquity and wealth. There were the Canaanites themselves, who had amassed great technology and military presence. However God chose Israel. She was the weakest and least likely to do anything great for God - since the nation had been enslaved. Furthermore, Abraham, the patriarch to whom God had spoken in Genesis 12, was originally an idolater. (Joshua 24:3) His Son Isaac and grandson Jacob were habitual liars. Jacob's sons (with the exception of Joseph) were to one degree or another scoundrels. 

5. Do not think this implies human beings as being robots. Far from it. God's electing choice, as stated in the Baptist Faith and Message, "comprehends the means as well as the ends", which includes human responsibility.



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