WHAT IS YOUR CALLING?Tom Ballinger
The word ”calling” is used to denote a Divine summons. Those who respond to this Divine summons (i.e. call) become members of a ”called-out group” which is denominated as being a ”church”; for church means a ”called-out company or assembly”. It is Scriptural correct to say that the word ”calling” is a word used by the Spirit of God to make known dispensational truth.
Rom. 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”
1 Cor. 1:26 “For ye see your calling, brethren..”
1 Cor. 7:20 “abide in the same calling wherein he was called”.
Eph. 4:4 “…called in one hope of your calling”
Eph. 1:18 “…what is the hope of his calling”
Phil. 3:14 “…the prize of the high calling of God…”
2 Th. 1:11 “…count you worthy of this calling,.,”
2 Tim. 1:9 “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling…”
Heb. 3:1 “…partakers of the heavenly calling…”
2 Pet. 1:10 “…give diligence to make your calling and election sure…”
These ten references can be ”rightly divided” into the three various callings. We will not so divide them but will set forth three headings which they would fall under:
(1) The calling of Israel,
(2) The calling of the Church of God (i.e. the called-out assembly
between Acts 2 and Acts 28:28)
(3) The calling of the Church of the Mystery.
To say that the three callings are two is an elementary mistake in first grade arithmetic. One plus one plus one equals three, not two. Most of Christendom makes this elementary mistake and are unable to distinguish between the calling of the Church of God and the Church of the Mystery. Of course this mistake is not the result of a low IQ; but it is the result of not having been enlightened by the Spirit of God to the truth.
The calling of the Church of God began at Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. It ran its course from Acts 2 to Acts 28:28. This calling was exclusively Jewish up until Acts 10. At that time the Apostle Peter opened the door to the Kingdom blessings to the Gentile household of Cornelius. Thus, beginning at Acts 10, Gentiles became members of this calling referred to as the Church of God (Acts 20:28). From Acts 10 to Acts 28:28, believing Gentiles were counted as the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise made to him (Gal.3:29).
During this period of time Gentiles were ”grafted in ” to this calling in an effort to ”provoke Israel to jealousy” (Rom. 11:11) . The believing Gentiles were considered to be a ”wild olive tree” (Rom. 11:17) grafted into ”a good olive tree” – that being Israel (Rom. 11 :24) . This grafting-in, Paul says, was ”contrary to nature” (Rom. 11:24). This grafting-in of believing Gentiles into the calling of the Church of God was for the purpose of provoking Israel to emulate the faith of the Gentiles. Instead of causing Israel to emulate the faith of the Gentiles it had the reverse effect upon them. Their hearts were hardened and ”waxed gross, and their ears (were) dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed” (Acts 28:27).
Resultant upon this the Apostle Paul says in Acts 28:28, ”Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it”(Acts 28:28). With this pronouncement God’s purposes with the calling of the Church of God was suspended. The calling was set aside. The Church of God was set in abeyance.
Paul wrote seven epistles to this called-out group. They were : I and 11 Corinthians, Galatians, Hebrews, Romans, and I and 11 Thessalonians.
Most Christians fail to recognize the importance that Acts 28:28 plays in the Divine purposes, for it is here that a dispensational boundary line is crossed. This truth is of paramount importance. Upon this hinges all present truth. It is here that the Pentecostal dispensation ends and the ”dispensation of the grace of God” begins.
On this side of Acts 28:28, a new calling is formed. The calling of the Church of the Mystery begins with the setting aside of the Church of God.
The Church of the Mystery has written to it seven epistles by the Apostle Paul.These seven epistles were written after Acts 28:28. They are Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, Philippians, l and 11 Timothy and Titus.
When the two callings are recognized as such and not confused as one, then progress can be made in ”knowing what is the hope of His calling”.
Before we look at the ”hope” let’s recognize that in Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17-19,
He refers to the calling as God’s. lt is ”His calling”. The reason being that it was God the Father Who ”hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”
(Eph. 1:3). It was God Who chose us ”in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). It was Him Who “predestined us unto the adoption” (Eph. 1:5). It was God Who “hath made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6) This calling originated with the Father Who is the source of all blessing and it is all according to”His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself”(Eph. 1:9) Hence, it is ”His calling”. We as members of ”His calling” can refer to it as ”ours” .It should be remembered that the reference to ”ours” is only in relationship to our walk. Doctrinally it is ”His calling”, practically it is ”our calling”
Notice in the section of Ephesians which deals with the practical out-working of truth (Eph. 4, 5 and 6) we read:
“1 therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation (calling) wherewith ye are called…even as ye are called in one hope of your calling” (Eph.4:1, 4)
It is ” your” calling or ”our” calling as it relates to our response to this truth. Only as we are ” enlightened” to see that it is the Father’s calling can we endeavor to walk worthy of ”our” calling.
It has been emphasized that in order to see ”what is the hope of His calling”, enlightened understanding is a prerequisite. As many Christians make an elementary mistake in confusing the ”callings” so they also compound the problem by making an additional error in insisting that three hopes are really just two. Believers who have not had the ”eyes of their understanding enlightened” are in a hopeless tangle for they are unable to perceive what is ”the hope of (God’s) calling” for this dispensation.
The word ”hope” carries with it several meanings:
(1) A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish or desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy, whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.” (continued)
”…and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish: Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider’s web” (Job 8:13-14)
Here the hypocrite places trust in a hope founded upon thin threads of a spider’s web. He does have an expectation but its foundation is flimsy. Thus, “so are the paths of all that forget God” (Job 8:13) .
(2) Confidence in a future event: the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good; as a hope founded upon God’s gracious promises, a Scriptural sense.
(3) That which gives: he or that which furnishes ground for expectation. The hope of Israel is the Messiah. ” (continued)
”the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of lsrael” (Joel 3:16)
(4) An opinion or belief not amounting to certainty, but grounded on substantial evidence.” (The definitions listed are from Webster’s Dictionary of 1828.)
So we can see that ‘ ‘hope” carries with it the idea of expectation and gives joy and pleasure. Of course, a misplaced hope while it may give joy and pleasure,will not be realized and it can be said that it will “perish”.
“When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth” (Prov. 11:7)
But, if the hope is based upon the Word of God then the expectation stands upon a firm foundation. However not all hopes in the Word are the same. The ” hope of lsrael” (Jer. 14: 18, Acts 28:20) was based upon promises God made to the fathers of Israel. Note the New Testament reference to hope where Paul says to Agrippa:
“And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers; unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope do come” (Acts 26:6-7)
Here it is noted that the hope in view is that which is based upon a promise. It is a specific promise ”made of God unto the fathers”. This hope can not possibly be confused with the”one hope ”which is the One Body”. The reference is clearly a promise to the “twelve tribes”.
While we will not make any attempt to fully cover the doctrines which surround the word “hope” we do conclude that it carries with it the expectation of attaining a specific promise made of God. Thus. when a specific promise from God is embraced, the believer experiences pleasure and joy as this hope is set before his eyes.
The question now arises. ”What is the hope of the present calling?” You should understand that each of God’s callings has had its own specific promise relating to its hope. Each company of God’s redeemed will not realize the same hope.
There are at least three distinct spheres of blessing indicated in the New Testament:
2.The heavenly city
3. Far above all
Three different companies of believers will enjoy the realization of their hope in one of the three spheres.
The Kingdom will be on earth. The ”overcomers” out of the Old Testament, the Acts period and the Tribulation will enjoy New Jerusalem. The ”One Body” will inhabit ”heavenly places”. The three callings do not have the same hope. To say our calling is related to the Kingdom is to steal the blessings of another group of people and appropriate them for ourselves. Likewise, to insist that the Church of the One Body will realize its hope in the heavenly city, New Jerusalem is stealing the promise of yet another company of believers.
When the ”Father of Glory” intervenes in the heart of the believer and causes light to enlighten his understanding, then the believer is given the enablement to ”know what is the hope of His calling”. Until this takes place the Christian is unable to appreciate the glorious hope of the Church.
Once being enlightened to know what is the hope of this dispensation, then and only then can one be expected to ”keep the unity of the spirit” (Eph. 4:3) . An integral part of the unity established by the Spirit is the “one hope” of our calling. In order to keep (i.e. guard) the ”one hope” we must, know what it is. The believer cannot watch over or ”endeavor to keep” that which he knows nothing about.