"YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED......"
This is the message you often see on an invitation to a party, a wedding, or some other affair. But we are going to talk about the invitation that God has extended to us. He has invited us to be His sons and daughters, to live an abundant life here on earth, and to have eternal life with Him.
The church epistles are written to us today, as well as the first century believers. Early on in Romans, we read about our invitation.
Romans 1: 6 -- Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
The word 'called' is one of the key words we will be looking at, the other being the word 'chosen'. 'Called' means to be summoned, or invited. 'Chosen' means to be selected. In the Old Testament, the chosen people of God were the Israelites. The selection was based on genealogy -- who their ancestors were. We are not restricted by genetics. Anyone and everyone who believes Romans 10: 9, 10 becomes one of God's children.
Romans 9: 24 -- Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Many of the first Christians were Jews by birth, but here we see that God has also called (invited) the Gentiles. Some other verses tell us more about those who are called.
I Corinthians 1: 24 - 27 -- But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks [Gentiles], Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called : But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
Not many mighty, wise, or noble people answer the invitation. It is those that are searching for answers, searching for God, that RSVP the invitation. In some cases, those who search are deemed to be foolish or weak by others, but what matters is what God thinks.
I Peter 2: 2, 3, 4 -- As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.
We are to desire the Word of God, drink it up spiritually, so we grow and mature in the renewed mind, OUR KEY TO POWER. We may be rejected (disallowed) by the world, but we are chosen, selected of God. God considers us to be precious to Him.
I 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:
This verse tells us one of our reasons for living. It is to show forth the praises of God. He has invited us from a world of darkness into His light. Before continuing, there are two points to address:
1) II Timothy 1: 9 -- 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,
It is important to remember that it is not because of our good deeds that God decided to invite us to the party. Some of the greatest sinners in the world have turned around to become some of the greatest believers (the apostle Paul is a good example). Yes, we must believe and answer the call. We should also do good works, but that is not the reason we are saved. It is by the grace of God.
2) Galatians 1: 6 -- I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
This is a warning to us that we can be tricked if we do not know the Word. The Galatians were called, but they were tricked into thinking they had to perform the law of the Old Testament in order to stand approved before God. Paul takes the next 6 chapters to convince them that they are not under the law, but under grace. We need to know the Word, especially as it applies to us (New Testament), so we are not tricked. Here are some of the benefits of answering the call:
Romans 8: 28 - 32 -- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
There is a lot of comfort in these five verses. We learn that all things work together for good to those that love God. God knew we would believe, and we have his son Jesus Christ as our brother. We are justified (a sonship right), and we are glorified. Verse 31 says it all.....If God be for us, who can be against us? Those who oppose us don't have a chance. Finally, since God allowed his own son to be sacrificed for us, there is no reason to deny us the things we need in this life. He will freely give us all we need (and even some things we don't need).
Ephesians 1: 18, 19 -- [That] 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 [is] in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
The 'hope' of his calling refers to the return of Jesus Christ, when he comes back for the believers. That was part of the deal in accepting the invitation. We get a new spiritual body and live forever with God and His son. We also read here about the riches of the glory of God, and His mighty power given to us.
I Peter 5: 10 -- But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered [endured] a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
Once again, we read we have been 'invited' to share in the eternal glory. For now, here on earth, we may have to endure pressures for a while. But God will help us to be fully prepared (perfect), establish us, strengthen us, settle us.
Now that we've responded to the invitation, we do have some responsibilities. There are certain things we are expected to do.
Galatians 5: 13, 14 -- For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
We have liberty, freedom, and grace, but we don't abuse it by catering to our fleshly desires. We are supposed to love one another.
Ephesians 4: 1 - 4 -- I Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 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;
We are to 'walk worthy' of our calling, not unworthy. We are to be teachable and meek, and again, love one another. We are to try to keep the unity of the body of believers in peace.
Philippians 3: 14 -- I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
When someone runs a footrace, they press toward the mark by striving and leaning toward the finish line. That's what you need to do if you want to win the trophy. We strive for God.
Colossians 3: 15 -- And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
We are to let the peace of God rule in our hearts and in our lives. This is only one of the benefits of answering the call!! And don't forget to be thankful.
II Thessalonians 2: 14, 15 -- Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions [the act of delivering over from one to another] which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
We are told to stand fast, and be unmovable concerning the Word of God, which has been delivered to us by either the spoken Word or the written Word.
I Timothy 6: 12 -- Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
We are in a spiritual competition, and we are urged to fight with believing.
James 2: 5 - 9 -- Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgement seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
James is telling us that we are not to practice 'respect of persons'. God has chosen the poor of the world to do much of His work. We should not despise someone because they don't have much money. We should not look up to and emulate the rich. They often oppress the poor, and they are sometimes enemies of God. If we practice the golden rule (Love thy neighbor as thyself), we do well. We are to love the rich and poor alike, and not favor one above the other.
These final scriptures are a summation of what it means to be invited into God's family:
II Peter 1: 3 -- According as [he by] 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 [his own] glory and virtue:
We have been called to glory and virtue, AND God has given us everything that we need for our earthly and spiritual lives.
II Peter 1: 4 -- Whereby [By which] 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 [over-desire].
Besides all the wonderful promises of God, we can be above the corruption of the world. It doesn't have to affect us, unless we allow it.
II Peter 1: 5 - 7 -- And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith (believing) virtue (excellence); and to virtue knowledge (of the Word); And to knowledge temperance (self-control); and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness (our personal spiritual relationship with God); And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (the Love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation).
II Peter 1: 8 -- For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the [doing] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a wonderful promise! If we abound in the actions in verses 5 through 7, we will never be barren in the knowledge of Christ.
II Peter 1: 9 -- But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off [is short-sighted], and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
If you don't renew your mind, on a daily basis, you may become like this verse describes.
II Peter 1: 10, 11 -- 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 need to make sure we send in that RSVP for the party. If we do this, and follow up by all the correct actions, we will never fall. The door will be wide open for us when we walk up to the palace, the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.