Introduction

It is overwhelming to realize that the God of the universe, the only God and Creator of all that is, has chosen to call every believer into a very special relationship with Himself. This call and the relationship that follows are very personal and very real! The truth of this is found on almost every page of the Bible, in life after life, and verse after verse. It is central to the entire message of the Bible. It is, in fact, an expression of the very heart of God.

Even more amazing is the knowledge that it was God's choice to call people into such a personal relationship with Himself: "He chose us in Him [Christ], before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight" (Ephesians 1:4). Jesus expressed this will of the Father to His disciples this way: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit, and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you" (John 15:16). This truth remains to this day, and includes each of us.

When this truth grips a person's heart, he or she is never the same again. Immediately there comes into that life a deep sense of meaning and purpose, and a sense of stewardship, or accountability, to God. So personal and real was this to David that he said to God,

My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.

And in Your book they all were written,

The days fashioned for me,

When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How great is the sum of them!

—Psalm 139:15-17

Jeremiah also was made aware of this when God informed him that:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;

Before you were born I sanctified you;

I ordained you a prophet to the nations.

—Jeremiah 1:5

God then unfolded to Jeremiah what this would mean to him, and the stewardship of this knowledge radically affected the rest of his life.

To give an even fuller picture of this truth, we must know the witness of the apostle Paul as he related what God had told him: "God... from my mother's womb set me apart and called me by His grace" (Galatians 1:15). Much of the Book of Acts is the record of what this call of God meant for Paul's life. Such love of God, Paul said, literally "constrained" him ("constrained" means to order all of the rest of his life). In this special relationship with God, he increasingly became convinced that, "He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised" (2 Corinthians 5:15). Paul went on later to express what this meant in his life in saying, "But by God's grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God's grace that was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10), thus expressing his enormous sense of accountability to God for such love toward him.

But this sense of call and accountability was not limited in the New Testament to just a few special people. Every believer is spoken of as the called of God, or the chosen of God, or ones set apart by God! (You may want to look up this fact in the following passages: Romans 1:6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Ephesians 1:1-6, 18; Ephesians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:11.)

As the Scriptures are our guide for both faith and practice, or daily living, this truth and its implications for each of our lives will guide us thoroughly in our relationship with God. This study will help us understand and respond to God in accountability. In this pursuit, we will look at:

  1. Why does God call us?
  2. What is a call?
  3. Who are the called?
  4. How am I called?
  5. When am I called?
  6. How do I live out the call?