Romans 8: 28
"Jesus calls me, I must follow,
Follow Him today
When His tender voice is pleading
I must not, cannot delay?
Jesus calls me, I must follow,
Follow every hour
Know the blessing of His presence
Fullness of His power.
Follow, I will follow Thee, my Lord,
Follow every passing day...
My tomorrows are all known to Thee,
Thou... wilt lead me all the way."
The New Testament term (kaleo) denotes "calling,"
and it's different forms are used almost 200 times in the Gospels and Epistles.
However, they have a specifically theological meaning in only about 70 of these instances.
Paul employs these terms more than 40 times in his writings.
So, it is in the Pauline Epistles, that calling receives its clearest and most comprehensive, theological formulation.
And it is so used here.
It refers to the call of God to salvation and service.
Christians are often represented as called of God.
The Greek word is sometimes used to denote an external invitation, or calling.
(Matthew 20: 16; 22: 14)
But excepting in these places, it is used in the New Testament
to denote those who have received the call and are called Christians.
(Romans 1: 6, 7; 1 Corinthians 1: 2, 24; Revelation 17: 14)
It is evidently used in this sense here -- to denote those who are truly Christian.
So here in Romans 8: 28, we are plainly taught that those who love God have in their heavenly calling
additional evidence that "all things work together for their good."
So another characteristic of the Christian is added -- not only do they love God,
but they also are "called according to His purpose."
The former is the effect and truth of the latter.
Those who are called according to His purpose are the same as those who love Him.
Christians are said to be called because God has called us to salvation,
and has sent into our heart such an influence, as to make the call effectual to our salvation.
In this way, our salvation is traced to its source -- God.
God does the calling. (Romans 8: 30; 1 Thess. 2: 12)
And God calls in accordance with His own purpose. (2 Timothy 1: 9)
He calls us in Christ, and Christ, the Word of God, incarnates the call to men.
That call did not depend on our willing or our anything -- that call depended on God's mercy.
God called us with a holy calling, not according to our works -- actual or foreseen, not by our own act and will
-- "But according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal."
(2 Timothy 1: 9)
He calls us to a salvation and a life everlasting, which we cannot bring about.
Has anyone who loves God ever thought otherwise?
Not one of us can boast that we have turned the key and opened the door,
or that we have achieved the doing away with the old.
We know that our great salvation is altogether the gift and operation of God,
and that our divine calling is grounded altogether and completely upon the eternal purpose of God.
Paul will not allow us the slightest impression
that we could possibly exercise an initiative which belongs to God alone.
"For consider, brothers, the way God called you; that not many of you,
in accordance with human standards, were wise, not many influential, not many of high birth.
Just the opposite:
God shows what the world calls foolish to put the wise to shame,
what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame, what the world calls of low degree, yea,
what it counts as nothing and what it thinks does not exist,...
so that no mortal man might ever boast in the presence of God."
(1 Corinthians 1: 26-29, Williams)
We never pursued the righteousness of God, and in no way were we living within His gracious will.
We knew nothing at all of His precious will -- let alone have any power
to assent to it or make it our own.
There was nothing in us to make us worthy of the great gift of salvation.
There was nothing in our past, present or future.
There was nothing in us or about us that could ever lead us to a point in our lives
where we could know Him.
He calls us
God does the calling!
"No man cometh unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him."
(John 6: 44)
It is God who has invited and called us unto Himself.
He called us.
He quickened us.
He awakened us.
He brought us to life.
So, without our presupposition, without our preparation,
without pre-history -- God called us and enabled us to know Him.
That calling occurred, and we heard.
He came to take up His abode in our hearts.
He called us to come out of our graves, and now we live with Christ -- now and forever!
In this way and this alone, by the grace of God did we become the children of God --
heirs of God and bearers of the promise that "We know that..." (8: 28)
He called and He enabled for this calling is the effectual calling
which is "the work of God's Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery,
enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and reviewing our wills."
He persuades and enables us to embrace Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord of our lives.
Since the call is initiated by God, and has its origin in Him, it is a "holy calling."
(2 Timothy 1: 9)
We are called by the grace of God (Galatians 1: 15):
To peace (1 Corinthians 7: 15)
To freedom (Galatians 5: 13)
To eternal life (1 Timothy 6: 12)
It is a heavenly calling from above into God's marvelous light.
(Philippians 3: 14; Hebrews 3: 1; 1 Peter 2: 9)
It is a call to clean, moral living, and to patience and suffering.
(1 Thess. 4: 7; 1 Peter 2: 21)
It is a call into the fellowship of God's Son, Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1: 9)
This "calling" is the realization in history of God's eternal purpose.
(cf. 9: 11; Ephesians 1: 11; 3: 11)
What a glorious calling this is!
To have heard the Holy Spirit's voice.
To have felt and experienced the Saviour's love.
And to know with certainty the Father's assistance: that "all things..."
And to know that "nothing shall ever separate us..."
Before we were unable to understand, now we understand.
Before we were unable to believe, now we believe.
Before we were unable to trust, now we trust.
And now -- "Behold, old things are passed away, and all things have become new."
(2 Corinthians 5: 17)