Have you ever had someone tell you that you missed your calling in life? Usually they are referring to an ability or talent you have that could have been put to better use in making a living or making a difference in the community or some such thing. Certainly, we all have different abilities which could lead us along different paths in life, if we chose to develop those talents. Some people do make that choice while others don’t, for a variety of reasons. Some folks may have a gift or talent that they have no interest in developing, even though it is extraordinary. However, not all callings have to do with talent. There are different kinds of calls in life. During an emergency one person may be called upon to render medical aid as a nurse or EMS, while another person with no particular talent may be pressed into service to remove debris or provide transportation. Moreover, we never know when we may be called upon or the impact it may have on us or others. All we can do is to respond to the best of our abilities when called upon. It is also true that not all calls are of equal importance, nor have the same impact on lives as others might have. Except one.
Paul the apostle spoke of this one exceptional calling on multiple occasions. He called it, among other things, a heavenly call (Hebrews 3:1-2). It requires no exceptional level of intelligence or other ability by those who receive it. In fact, it applies to all men and women. All can receive the call and answer it with an equal assurance of success. The only requirement for those who answer it is to do so with faithful adherence to the call itself. The degree of difficulty experienced in adhering to the call will vary with the individual, their background, strengths and weaknesses, and level of commitment. But we can rest assured that the One Who called us, will provide each of us with the guidance and strength we need to not only answer the call but to remain faithful to it, as Paul wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10:13).
The call Paul spoke of begins with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it doesn’t end there. Also known as the Way (Acts 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22), it leads us to: life eternal (Matthew 7:13-14), to righteousness (Matthew 21:32), and the path of God (Mark 12:14). Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The call or the Way, then is the path of truth established and completed by God through His Son and passed on by the Holy Spirit through the prophets, apostles, and inspired writers of Holy Scripture. What was incomplete under the old covenant was made complete by Christ and the new covenant, which was paid for by His blood. The gospel calls us to a holy calling as followers of Christ, Who through His death purchased for us life and immortality as members of the kingdom He has established (II Timothy 1:8-10; Mark 9:1; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28).
Peter told his readers that they had been called out of the darkness into God’s light (I Peter 2:9). That light illuminates our path toward the narrow gate that Jesus spoke of to His followers (Matthew 7:13-14). According to our Savior the path is difficult, though it be illumined, that leads to the gate of life; however, the rewards for reaching that gate are priceless. As Paul told the Philippians, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). The one who truly answers the call forgets her past with its successes and failures and sets her sights on the treasure that lies ahead. What Peter called the light, Paul described as the upward call of God, Who awaits us in heaven. He awaits those who will answer the call, for as Christ calls us to Himself, to become His saints, we must in turn call upon His name in obedience (I Corinthians 1:2).
On another occasion Paul described the LORD God’s summons as a call into the “fellowship of His Son” (I Corinthians 1:9). It is more than an offer of citizenship in His kingdom, it is a personal invitation to fellowship with the Lord. Then again, it is more than even that. It is an offer of adoption, by which we are made heirs of the kingdom along with His Son (Romans 8:14-17; I Peter 1:3). To Paul being called into service and fellowship with the Lord was the worthiest of all calls, because it was the only one by which we are drawn to the Lord with a legitimate hope of being accepted by Him (Ephesians 4:1-6).
For everyone who accepts the Lord’s invitation there is prepared a life of opportunities and spiritual abundance. As a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17) the Christian is made for good works (Ephesians 2:10). We are to be a model to the world of what God wants man to be (Titus 2:7, 14), prepared for every good work that is of an excellent nature and profitable for people (Titus 3:1-2, 8). We are to be devoted to His word, becoming enlightened as to the hope into which He has called us, able to discern the riches of the saints and the greatness of God’s power toward us (Ephesians 4:4; 1:18-19), and prepared to give a defense to anyone that asks us about the hope that we have in the Lord (I Peter 3:15).
We have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). That very proximity to the Lord will inevitably bring us into conflict with the world. But we should not fear their rejection nor any persecution that we may suffer at their hands. As Peter once wrote, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (I Peter 5:10). Whatever we may suffer at the hands of the world we must trust that it will be of limited duration and of no consequence in comparison to the reward of heaven, and we must trust that God will be with us giving us the strength to not only endure, but that in the end He will establish our place with Him. We need only make every effort to remain obedient to our call.
So, how are we called? We are called by the gospel (Luke 4:43; Acts 8:12; Romans 10:8-15). God’s command was for His word to be proclaimed to all nations. There is to be no partiality in who we reach out to with the gospel (Acts 10:34-35). The word is to be proclaimed by preachers, missionaries, teachers— by each one of us in defense of the hope that is in us (II Thessalonians 2:13-14; I Peter 3:15). Through the written word and our sharing of that word the truth is to be spread to all men. If we are doing our part all men will one day have the opportunity to hear the good news and come to a knowledge of the truth, and as Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The sad part is not all who receive the call will accept it. Some will miss their calling. No matter what we do most of the world will turn a deaf ear to what we say. While that may be disheartening, we must not dwell on the seeming failures, but instead rejoice in those who accept the Lord’s word for what it is— the path to their salvation.
For those of us who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ, the journey continues until we finish the race. It is a daily struggle at times to hold the world at bay. Such times prompted Peter to encourage his readers to build on their Christians virtues (II Peter 1:3-9), strengthening themselves to remain effective in the word. He culminated by writing, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (II Peter 1:10). We must be diligent in our journey along the way to the narrow gate for there are those who would seek to draw us away. It was Peter who also warned us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). The call brings us to the cross, but it is what we do after we accept Christ that determines our eternal fate. We must be true to the call and continue to follow the path along the way that Christ has pathed for us before we can say, along with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).
by Roland W. Keith
One of the first things a new Christian should be taught is the absolute veracity of the word of God. If he or she has doubts about the word it will not be long before his or her new-found faith is in jeopardy; after all the very faith they have is founded on what we know of Jesus Christ and God the Father through the written word. It is important for all followers of Christ to know and trust the Bible as fact and not as a collection of fables or wise stories and sayings. Peter addressed this very thing when he wrote, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain” (II Peter 1:16-18). Peter is not alone in assuring his readers that what they are reading or listening to is a first-hand account by reliable witnesses. John, Matthew, and Luke also proclaimed the verity of their words were based not on hearsay or anecdote, but on eyewitness accounts— often by those who not only witnessed the events but were actual participants themselves (I John 1:1-3; Luke 7:22; 19:37; 5:26; John 1:14, 32-34; 4:45; 11:45; 9:1-25; Matthew 15:30-31; Acts 4:19-20; 22:14-15; 8:6-7; 3:2-10)!
According to Paul not only are the scriptures trustworthy, they are elevated above all words of human wisdom. According to him, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The words written in the bible contain the mind of God Himself— just as Jesus was the word incarnate, holy scriptures are the manifestation of God in written form. To understand them is to understand (in as much as He has revealed it) the thoughts and intentions— the very will of God. To know the Bible is to be touched by the divine mind. If our minds are open to it the Bible reveals our every weakness, every sin, every hope, our every intention, not just to God (He already knows!), but to us! It exposes us to the truth— about the world, about God, and about us. As Paul went on to say, “no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). The Bible makes us aware of what God already knows. It brings us face-to-face with our own sin and mortality. However, it goes beyond merely exposing our plight as fallen men and women. It offers us hope.
To the Romans Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). The word of God has not only the power to penetrate the mind and deeds of man, it contains the power to change men and women; to redeem and to save them. “All Scripture,” Paul wrote Timothy, “is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible can lead us to Christ for salvation, and then equip us to be the kind of people God wants us to be (II Peter 1:3-4).
The Bible is a gift from heaven that brings good news (James 1:17-18; I Peter 1:25; Luke 2:10; 4:43; Romans 10:15; I John 2:25-26). It is also a sign and warning of God’s judgment upon sin (II Peter 2:6; Genesis 19:1-22; 6:9-13; II Peter 3:7). Fortunately, its warnings are designed to compel us to accept God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation, providing us with a clear path to heavens gate (Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9; Matthew 11:28-30; 7:12-14; John 14:6; Philippians 2:12-13). In the end if we hear the word of God and reject it, or accept it, then turn from it, our condemnation will be on our own heads (Mark 16:16; Matthew 10:33; I John 2:22; John 12:42; II Peter 2:20-21). If, however, we believe and remain faithful we have the assurance of God that He will forgive our sins (I John 1:9), that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to deal with it (I Corinthians 10:13), that He will keep His promises (Hebrews 10:23; I Thessalonians 5:24), that He will add us to the fellowship of His Son, bestowing upon us the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
These assurances are based on the eternal nature of God. As James once wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:17-18). God does not change His mind. Once His word is given it is absolute. Therefore, if we answer His call, and obey His commands salvation will be ours. The seed of salvation planted in us shall not fade away, as Peter noted, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’" (I Peter 1:22-25).
What is this promise that God has bound by His word? Eternal life. Not life in eternity, which all humans, both the condemned and saved, will receive for good or ill, but something else. When the Bible speaks of eternal life it is speaking of being granted the right to live in God’s presence throughout eternity (John 10:10; I John 2:25; Philippians 3:20; John 14:2; Luke 6:23; 10:20; Matthew 7:21; 6:21). It is a gift that God determined to offer man because of the great love He has for His creation (John 3:16), choosing to spare us eternal damnation if we will accept it and come to Him in repentance (Acts 17:30; 3:19; Luke 13:3). To pay for our sins, even though we are weak and unworthy, God sent His Son to earth to redeem us by taking our sins upon Himself on the cross (Romans 5:6).
Not only did God sacrifice His Own Son for us, but through Him and the work of the Holy Spirit He gave us the inspired word to guide us and teach us His will for our lives (II Timothy 3:16-17; Colossians 2:6-7; II Peter 1:5-8). Before His crucifixion Jesus told His apostles, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). The result of the Holy Spirit’s work is the Bible. Filled with God’s words of encouragement and direction it also provides the necessary warnings to help us avoid the deceptions of those who would draw us away from our creator (II Peter 2:1-3, 20-22; 3:1-4; Colossians 2:8).
According to Jesus, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). The word of God sets us free. It does not create an impenetrable bubble around us that keeps the world from touching us, but it does give us the spiritual knowledge, weapons, and tools to help us successfully navigate through life (I Timothy 2:3-4; 3:16-17; Ephesians 6:10-18). It is through the word of God that we are born again, having our souls purified, and our minds prepared and strengthened to defeat Satan through our understanding of, and obedience to it (I Peter 1:19-23). God desires all of us to come to the knowledge that is necessary, not only to save us, but to ensure our ability to endure to the end (I Timothy 2:3-4).
In his first letter to Timothy Paul wrote his young friend, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, Who in His testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” ( I Timothy 6:11-14). Timothy’s call that Paul mentions is the word of God that he had received first at the feet of his mother and grandmother, then later through the testimony of Paul, as given to him by the Lord (II Timothy 1:1-14). It is that same word that we receive today when we are taught from or study the Bible. What compelled Paul and Timothy, and so many others to dedicate their lives to the spread of God’s word, risking, and even giving their lives to deliver it to the world is the same thing that should compel us to risk all to attain the goal that has been set before us.
In his last letter written shortly before his death, Paul wrote Timothy, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (II Timothy 4:6-8). The aged apostle had remained true to the Lord’s call and looked forward to the promises of his Savior. I hope that the same can be said about each one of us.
The word of God was written for our edification (II Timothy 3:16-17), salvation (I Timothy 2:3-4; John 20:30), and judgment (John 5:19-29; 12:48; II Peter 3:7). No greater works of writing exist in the world. If there is only one book you read this year. If there is only one whose teachings you take to heart I sincerely hope that it will be the one given to man by God: The Holy Bible.
by Roland W. Keith
In his brief letter Jude likened those who reject the authority of God or substitute their dreams or wishes for the truth with the generation of Israelites who died in the desert for their unbelief, as well as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, whom the Lord destroyed due to their immorality (Jude 1:5-6, 8). Along with these he added the example of the heavenly beings who rebelled against God, writing, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). Reading such words there is often a sense of foreboding attached to the study of the day of judgment, however, we should not lose sight of the fact that it is also “the Day of the Lord.” Jesus came to earth to do the will of His Father— to give His own life as a ransom for the souls of mankind and to establish an eternal kingdom for those who would believe in Him and turn to Him for salvation. For all such men and women Jesus promised, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40; see 6:38-54). It is on the day of judgment that every believer, justified by the blood of Christ, will rise to meet the Lord in the clouds.
The day of judgment is a day of both eternal death and eternal life, when we are judged according to our deeds and whether or not we have accepted and acted in accordance to God’s word (John 12:47-50; II Corinthians 11:15; Jude 1:15; I Peter 1:”17; Romans 2:6; James 2:24; Mark 16:15-16). Each of us will die, and each will face the judgment (Hebrews 9:27-28); as Paul also wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (II Corinthians 5:10). The day the Lord returns is, therefore, a day of sorrow and rejoicing. Many will be sentenced to an eternity separated from God in the fires of hell, and many will be joyfully united with God in heaven. If you are an obedient follower of Jesus Christ there is no fear of the judgment in your heart, but rather the confidence of one who abides in the love of God (I John 4:15-18). It is the day when all of Christ’s work on behalf of man will be brought to completion— when He will be glorified in His saints (Philippians 1:6-10; II Thessalonians 1:5-10), and those who have rejected Him will feel the wrath of God’s righteous judgment (Romans 2:5).
To some the Lord’s return has been a long time coming (II Peter 3:4-9). However, it is God’s will to give humanity every chance to repent. Nonetheless, there is a day that God has fixed upon to send His Son back to earth to gather the final harvest (Acts 17:30-31; Hebrews 9:27-28). The judgment day is a certainty. What has not been determined is our eternal fate. There is still time for any of us to reverse our fortunes and turn to the Lord, avoiding the fate of the ungodly (I Peter 4:17-18). In Revelation we read, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (20:12-15).
The book of life. God’s journal of all those who have died to sin and been made righteous by the blood of His Son (I Peter 2:22-24). The record of all those who honored the Son of God and the eternal Father in their lifetimes by being obedient to the divine call (John 5:21-24). God will judge the living and the dead (II Timothy 4:1), according to the word and His truth and justice (John 12:48; Revelation 16:7); as Paul told the Romans, “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek” (2:5-10).
We will all give an account of our lives when the world comes to an end. As Paul told the Roman Christians, “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12). God is a loving and merciful God, however, He is also a holy God, Whose nature demands justice. All who reject the truth and act contrary to God’s word will be punished. Being self-condemned by their own actions (II Thessalonians 2:9-12), they will “suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord” (II Thessalonians 1:7-9). Those who obey God, on the other hand, will be considered worthy of His kingdom, glorifying the Lord on that day (II Thessalonians 1:5, 10).
We do not know all that will occur on that day, nor can we envision its glory and spectacle. However, Jesus did tell us one thing about it: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:31-34, 41).
All of history’s great and small, the famous and the unknown, from all times will be judged and divided by the Lord. In fact, in His own lifetime, and ever since Jesus has divided man by His actions and His words. As He said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:34-36). He has always divided the truth from error and the righteous from the unrighteous. But on the day of judgment that separation will absolute and eternal. There will be no more abiding with man who strives against Him. The battle of good and evil will come to an end. The evil introduced into the world by Satan will be put away in the lake of fire. And, on that day the righteous in Christ will be ushered into heaven where the glory and holiness of the Lord God will illuminate their way for eternity. Near the end of his life Paul wrote his son in the faith, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:6-8).
How many of us have loved His appearing? How many of us are convinced that we are the product of a creator? And, how many of us look forward to that day? The last day of man’s sojourn on earth and the first day in our eternal abode. It will be a day like no other. A unique moment in time. As the culmination of God’s plan for His creation it could not be otherwise. All of our history upon this earth points to that day. A day of total destruction and eternal birth. I do not know what God accomplished before the creation of the universe, nor do I know what awaits us in eternity. But I know I want to be there, in heaven, with Him. As Paul once said, “I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded” (II Timothy 1:12). And because I am persuaded I am confident that the day is approaching when I will meet my Maker, moreover, I look forward to it.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.