Is there more to our calling than just putting
out television programs and magazines? How can God use us? Are we here
just to sit while others do the real work?
Over the years, as we have sat in our respective church services and listened to sermons, I think all of us have wondered at one time or another about our calling. Many of us have come from organizations where we were told to pay our tithes and pray for the work, but it was not something in which we were personally involved, or thought about much during our daily lives.
Is this what our calling was to be? Is this what being a Christian is all about? If we are relying on a corporate organization to shine the light of Godís truth, how then is our personal light shining? It might even lead us to ask what Godís plan is for us individually. How will He use us? Surely there must be more to it than simply having our church organization put out television programs and magazines.
If there is more, what is it? What really is my calling? Am I here to sit in the back row while ministers and other higher-ups do the real work? Is this all there is to obtaining salvation?
To answer these questions with any degree of satisfaction, we need to back up and look at the big picture of Godís plan of salvation, and then begin to focus on specifics once we have laid a solid foundation.
FREE MORAL AGENCY
When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them a choice. Basically, it was a choice between two very different approaches to life, both with very different results. Inherent within this choice was the freedom to decide, the freedom to choose how they would live. The simplest way to define this would be that God gave Adam and Eve free moral agency, the power and authority to choose how they would live. This is another way of saying that they were given their own free will to choose which path they would walk.
When the choice was made, Adam was saying to God, "I want to decide for myself how to live, using the will and mind that you have given me."
He was, in effect, asserting that will that God has given to all of us. But is this what God wants of us? Is this how we are to live? These questions reach to the very core of our existence and our purpose for being here.
When we were born, we were granted many things, including different talents and abilities. All of these things were loaned to us for this life save one: our free will, the same free will that God bestowed upon Adam and Eve. He gave us all free will, and the freedom to choose.
He gives us the latitude to dream up our own standards of behavior, our own system of justice, our own morals and belief systems. This Free Will is the one and only thing we have in this life that is truly ours. If we are to obtain salvation, it is also the one thing we must give back to God.
He asks us when He calls us to give up that self will, give it back to Him, and submit ourselves to His will instead of our own. But why? Why is it necessary to give up our own self will? What is so important about our self will?
WE MUST SURRENDER
When God calls us out of the world, He is, in essence, asking us if we will let Him determine right and wrong, allow Him to set the standards by which we live our lives. He is asking us to live by His spiritual standards, not human standards, devised by our own heart. Why? Why is it so necessary for us to forsake our own self will, the ideas, wants and desires that come out of the flesh, in exchange for those that come from the Spirit?
Our Creator is inviting us to live under His rulership, according to His laws, which are in harmony with the universe He created. God wants us to become citizens of His spirit kingdom, and future members of the God family. He wants us to think as He thinks, talk as He talks, and live as He lives. He commands us to be holy, even as He is holy. Again we can ask the question, why? Why is it so important for us to be holy as He is? To answer this, we need to understand some of the facts of our existence that have been hidden until now.
THE PHYSICAL AND THE SPIRITUAL
As we carry on our relationship with God, and He grants us more understanding and a closer relationship with him, He helps us to understand through His laws that our physical life has a spiritual side to it, that our actions have spiritual ramifications. When we sin, spiritual distance is put between us and God.
We all understand that, just as there are physical laws that govern the universe, like the principle of cause and effect, the law of gravity, etc., there are spiritual laws as well. They cannot be seen and appreciated as easily as the principles of physics in the world around us. However, the result of breaking those laws can just as easily be seen by those with eyes to see. Mankind has paid dearly for insisting on making their own laws and rejecting those of their divine Creator. The results of this way of thinking is plain to all who look. Crime, poverty, divorce, corruption, and all manner of suffering can all be traced directly to mankindís choice to live outside Godís laws.
God asks us to live in harmony with those spiritual laws, and to receive the blessings that come from that harmony. We are also blessed by being given the privilege of having a direct relationship with the Creator of the entire universe through the redemptive act of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There is, however, more to understand about our existence.
Each of us, when we were born, were given the spirit in man -- the ability to reason and interact with the physical word around us; to make cities and civilizations; to build tools and homes; to feed ourselves and to understand the things of the flesh. This spirit in man does not, however, give us the ability to perceive and understand the other side of our existence, the things of the spirit. When we repent and are baptized, we are given the Spirit of God, which gives us understanding, perception, and discernment concerning the spiritual side of our lives. It gives us the ability to grasp the spiritual significance of our actions. Many fail to understand the simple fact that our actions (whether sinful or godly) have a profound effect on our spiritual health. But how can we have "spiritual health"? Do we have a spirit body? This is where the discussion gets interesting.
OUR SPIRITUAL SIDE
I believe that when we are baptized, from that moment on we have a presence in the spirit world, a sort of spirit body that is tied to our physical existence. We are called the children of light. I think there is a literal side to that description. I believe that when we are close to God, the spiritual side of us shines like the face of our Father. Is it not written that Godís Spirit proclaims "Abba, Father," signifying His ownership of us? When we sin, our spirit -- which is visible to those who live in the spirit realm -- dims, and there is spiritual distance placed between us and our Father. This is how Satan knows when we are vulnerable. He simply looks at the spiritual aura that surrounds us, and if it is dim, flickering, and dangerously low, then he has access to us that he would not ordinarily have.
But what does our self will have to do with our spiritual health? When we give our will to God, we are inviting Him into our minds, hearts, and lives. We are asking Him to change us, make us better than we are, to lead and rule us as our Father and Righteous Judge. We are letting Him do as He wishes, and making us a new creation, in the areas of our lives that we open to Him. Herein lies the key to understanding this issue: God will not violate our free will. He can only work with us in the areas of our lives that we submit to Him. For instance, if we keep the holy days, work hard at being honest and charitable, but still commit adultery, that sin puts spiritual distance between us and God, it cuts us off from His power in that area of our lives, and hinders our relationship with Him in general.
If there is an area of our lives where we have not submitted to God, and repented, confessed to Him our sins, and asked His forgiveness and help in overcoming, then this area becomes an open door for Satan to influence us, to use as a toehold to remove us from the presence of our God. We all face the challenge to avoid hardening our thinking in any area of our lives, to give Him complete rulership in every area. This is what Paul meant when he exhorted us to put on the whole armor of God. You see, it is only when we completely place ourselves in Godís hands that we are completely owned by Him, and hence completely protected by Him. When that happens, then truly we are His sheep, and as such He protects us from our adversary.
When we have an area in our lives where we refuse to repent, a spot of control we cannot bring ourselves to give up, then in this area we are still Satanís. Once again we acknowledge that God will not violate our free will, and so to the degree that we allow Him He brings us into His presence, before His very throne. Those areas, where we refuse Him rulership, and refuse to repent, are the chinks in our armor through which Satan still has access to our minds to influence us, confuse us and, if possible, to deceive us. This is the essence of our struggle. It is often through the trials that result from those areas of vulnerability that God shows us our profound need for Him to come in and heal, protect, and guide us.
So the battle becomes the elimination of our self will from the picture. When we exert our self will, then God, unwilling to violate our self will, is cut off from blessing, guiding and protecting us through our own action.We cut ourselves off from the continuous flow of the Holy Spirit when we decide to choose for ourselves, instead of letting God inspire and lead us through His Spirit, and through writing His laws on our hearts and minds.
TIED TO THE FLESH!
But one could ask, "So what? So what if I have an area or two where I still do as I please? Wonít God look at me and say that, on balance, I was a good Christian, and wonít He tell Jesus Christ to change me at His return?" The answer to this might very well shock you!
As we have seen, when we have areas in our lives where we keep control to ourselves, and do as we please, those things tie us to the things of the flesh, which are ruled by our adversary! This then becomes an area of vulnerability, an open door through which he works to poison our relationship with God, to mislead and deceive us.
If we still have any of these unrepentant areas when Christ returns, He will be unable to change us into spirit form! Yes, thatís right -- He will be unable to change us! If we have any areas in our lives where we have not submitted ourselves to His rulership, we will have made the choice by asserting our self will (which God will not violate) to tie ourselves to the things of the flesh, and we will thereby be chained to this physical existence. God will not force us to become spirit beings. If we have sins of which we have not repented, this leaves us trapped by that sin, and sin exists in Satanís domain. In that area, we are still Satanís, until we repent and are reconciled to God by the blood of our Savior. This is why Christ will not be able to change us at His return if we are not completely ruled by our Creator.
When Christ returns, He will change those who are truly "living according to the Spirit." Currently, our presence in the spirit world is tied to our physical existence until the time of the revealing of the Sons of God. Then He will simply cast off the physical shell that imprisons us and we shall inhabit the spirit form which we have been building with our Creator since we were born spiritually at baptism.
It is a sobering realization to consider. If we are not completely repentant and under the forgiveness and grace of the sacrifice of Christ in every area of our lives, we will not be changed at His return! We will have chained ourselves to sin, and thereby cut ourselves off from salvation. This brings new profundity to the Apostle Paulís statement, "Even the righteous are scarcely saved"!
This does not mean that we will have to be perfect before the return of Christ. It simply means that we will need to have thoroughly repented of ALL sin that God shows us, and to have completely put ourselves under the authority and rulership of our Father in Heaven.
REMOVE THE SELF WILL
This brings us to the question, "HOW?? How can we possibly accomplish all this before Christ returns?"
That is where prayer comes in. We need to be asking God to open our hearts and minds; to help us see life through His eyes and not our own; to be given His thoughts and desires, not our own; to be given the heart and mind of His Son Jesus Christ; and to fervently ask Him to work His work in us. We must ask God to change us, to help us walk as He walks, to think as He thinks, to talk as He talks, to live as He lives. We must ask Him to make us His tool, perfect and unspotted, to be used however He sees fit. This is our job, to be led completely and utterly by our Creator, and to allow Him to work through us however He wishes to do so.
It was not granted to mankind to have the power to change himself. Mankind does not possess that power. When we as Christians grow and overcome, it is really God working in us. Our part in the equation is to repent and place ourselves under His rulership so that He can work His work in us, making us that new creation.
We must work hard to remove our own will from our lives and allow Him to lead and inspire us through His Spirit.
When we were baptized, we promised that from then on our lives were not our own, and that we were bought with the blood of our Savior. This article is about making ourselves completely the possession of our Father. The Beatitudes state, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Only God can make us pure, and this He does when we repent in all areas of our life. He washes us clean with the blood of the Lamb. Only God and His Christ have the power to make us pure in heart, and then only when we unconditionally submit to the benevolent rulership of the Almighty God.