“The Heavenly Calling”
"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” -- Hebrews 3:1
In the opening words of Hebrews 3:1 the Holy Spirit tells us three things about all true believers, all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ: (1.) All true believers are “holy”. (2.) All true believers are “brethren”. (3.) All true believers are “partakers of the heavenly calling”.
There are some people in this world described by the Holy Spirit as “The Called” (Rom. 1:6; 8:28). Those who are the called of Jesus Christ are God’s elect, those sinners redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, who have been saved by his almighty, irresistible grace. All the rest of the elect shall be called, but those who are saved are “the called,” called from death to life, from unbelief to faith in Christ.
All who are privileged to hear the gospel preached are called externally, by the preaching of the gospel; but those who are saved, “the called,” have been called internally, effectually, and irresistibly by God the Holy Spirit. “The called” are like the Thessalonian saints. Their election, redemption, and calling is made manifest by the fact that the Word of God has come to them, not in word only, but in the power of the Holy Ghost. Salvation comes to chosen, redeemed sinners in the experience of grace by the almighty, irresistible, effectual call of God the Holy Spirit.
It is this call of which David sang, when he said, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee.” This is the call the Apostle Paul was talking about when he said, “God separated me from my mother’s womb, called me by his grace, and revealed his Son in me.” Paul was talking about this internal, effectual call when he wrote to Timothy. – God “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, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (2 Tim. 1:9-11).
Notice how the Apostle Paul describes this call of God. When he speaks of it, he seems to be so overwhelmed by it, in such awe of it that he cannot find words sufficient to describe it. He calls it…
· “An Holy Calling” (2 Tim. 1:9).
· “The High Calling of God” (Phil. 3:14).
· “The Calling of God” (Rom. 11:29).
· “Your Calling” (1 Cor. 1:26; Eph. 4:4).
· “The Heavenly Calling” (Heb. 3:1).
What is this call of God by which we are saved? What is this heavenly calling of which all who believe the gospel have been made partakers by the grace of God? It is described in many ways in doctrinal and theological works: -- The Internal Call -- The Effectual Call -- The Irresistible Call -- The Call of Grace. All those terms are good and accurate. But how this call is described and explained in Holy Scripture. Here are seven texts, seven divinely inspired passages of Scripture, in which our heavenly calling is described.
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
This internal, effectual, saving call of grace is a call out of gross darkness into God’s marvelous light. As in the creation of the world, God commanded the light to shine out of darkness, so in the new creation of grace God the Holy spirit shines in the hearts of chosen, redeemed sinners to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
Before God saved us, we were like all other men, engulfed in the gross darkness of our own depraved hearts and spiritual ignorance. God’s elect, in their state of nature, before they are converted, are just like all other men, totally ignorant of all things spiritual. We were all, by nature, ignorant of God, ignorant of ourselves, ignorant of Christ, ignorant of sin, ignorant of righteousness, ignorant of providence, ignorant of salvation, ignorant of the Scriptures, and ignorant of the gospel. The natural man has absolutely no spiritual knowledge (John 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:14).
Now, by the effectual call of the Holy Spirit, the eyes of our understanding have been opened, we are now made to see light and walk in light, as the children of light. God’s people are children of light. They no longer grope about in darkness. They have the unction of the Spirit, causing them to know all things. Believers have the mind of Christ, enabling them to understand all things (Pro. 28:5; 1 John 2:20; 1 Cor. 2:12-13, 15-16).
Believers understand the truth, believe the truth, and receive the love of the truth. Every regenerate man or woman rejoices in both the character of God and the ways of God. Believers all acknowledge their sin and sins, and the utter sinfulness of their righteousnesses. All who know God find the in the effectual blood atonement of Christ the solitary basis for their hope and consolation before God. Saved sinners glory in the Lord, declaring with Jonah of old, “Salvation is of the Lord!”
Being taught of God, regenerate, enlightened, saved sinners have the ability to distinguish between things that differ. They know no the difference between grace and works. They know the difference between free grace and free will. We have been called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.
"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
We were by nature children of wrath, even as others; but now, in Christ we are freed from all the curse and condemnation of God’s holy law. We lived all the days of our lives as home born slaves, under the dominion of sin; but now, in Christ we have become the servants of righteousness. We spent all our days under the power and influence of Satan; but we are now Christ’s free men. How we ought to thank God for the blessed liberation of grace! Satan, like a strong man armed, held me in a bondage worse than that of Egypt. Grace has set me free! “The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand” (Deut. 6:20-23). “Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him. Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee” (Deut. 4:31-39). All who are born of God have been called unto liberty, even “the glorious liberty of the sons of God”!
Called unto the Fellowship of Christ -- 1 Corinthians 1:9
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
Not only have we been called out of bondage and into liberty, we have been called into the blessed liberty of intimate, sweet fellowship with the Triune God in our all glorious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
God calls his people to abandon the world for Christ. Those who are called of God are called to forsake family and friend, like Abram, and follow Christ. We have been, and are continually called by our God, to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”. The riches of this world, the recognition it lavishes upon men, and the religion it cherishes, we must purposefully despise (Deut. 7:2-6, 25-26; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Rev. 18:4).
This is no great sacrifice. “The heavenly calling” of which we are now partakers brings us into far better company than we ever knew before. We now have access to and communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and blessed fellowship with his saints on earth, and even with his saints in heaven (Heb. 12:22-23). God’s house is open to us. The Lord’s Table is open to us. The very throne of God is open to us! What a privilege! We have been called into fellowship with the eternal God!
"But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace."
The call of God is a call to internal peace, peace of mind and peace of conscience; to which all men are utter strangers by nature. There is no peace to the wicked: but God has called us to peace. He has blessed us with it, with a peace that passes all understanding, with peace in the midst of the tribulations of the world, with a peace that the world can neither give nor take away. Our peace is a peace that arises from the blood and righteousness of Christ, and is part of that kingdom of God which is within us, into which we are brought by our heavenly calling.
We have also been called to peace among ourselves, and with all men. "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body" (Col. 3:15). We have been called unto peace.
Called unto Holiness -- 1 Thessalonians 4:7
"God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness."
The call of God is a holy calling. It is a call arising from upon a holy purpose, -- the purpose of God. It is a call based upon a holy principle -- justice satisfied. It is a call that has brought us into a holy position, -- justified and sanctified in Christ. It is a call which makes us a holy people, -- “An Holy Nation”- - “A Peculiar People”-- “A Royal Priesthood.”
John Gill said, with regard to this call of God’s elect, “They are called out of a state of unholiness and sinfulness, into a state of holiness and righteousness; for being created anew in righteousness and true holiness, and created in Christ Jesus to good works, they are called to the exercise of them; to live holily, soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present evil world; ‘God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness’, (1 Thess. 4:7) and ‘hath called us to glory and virtue’ (2 Pet. 1:3), to glorious acts of virtue and goodness, becoming the nature of their call, and of him that has called them; ‘As he which hath called you is holy’ (1 Pet. 1:15).”
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel."
We have been call by the grace of Christ. We have been called by the instrumentality of the gospel of the grace of Christ. We have been called into the blessed experience of the grace of Christ. We have been called to be partakers of and to enjoy all the blessings of the grace of Christ.
We have been called (1.) out of darkness into light, (2.) out of bondage into liberty, (3.) out of the world into fellowship with God, (4.) out of turmoil into peace, (5.) out of uncleanness into holiness, (6.) out from under the curse of God’s law into the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and (7.) out of the kingdoms of this world into God’s kingdom and glory in Christ.
"That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory."
God has called us to a kingdom that is glory. He has called us into the possession of the kingdom of grace here, a kingdom that can never be taken away from us. And he has called us to inherit a kingdom of glory hereafter. “The Lord will give grace and glory.” This kingdom and glory to which he has called us is an everlasting kingdom.
Can you get hold of this? We have been called by the grace of God “to the obtaining of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." All who are called are “called in one hope of their calling” (Eph. 4:4). All who are called have the same “promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). All who are called are called to and have been given the same glory for their eternal inheritance (John 17:22)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:3-4).
 I remind you, there is no effectual call of grace apart from the preaching of the gospel. Yet, the preaching of the gospel will never produce life and faith in Christ without the effectual call of God the Holy Spirit.
 “When the apostle Paul was called by grace, a light surrounded him, as an emblem of that internal light which was sprung in him. After that, there fell from his eyes, as it had been scales, as a token of the removal of his former darkness and ignorance.” (John Gill)