The Calling of God

Lesson 7, Introduction

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Introduction

What is the meaning of God's relationship with man? What priority does He place on it? Does man need a relationship with God? If so, what is the basis and purpose of that relationship?

Winston Churchill

"There is a great plan being worked out here below..."

Sir Winston Churchill, British prime minister, 1940-1945, 1951-1955

Euripides, a fifth-century B.C. philosopher, asked:

“What is God? What is not God? What is between man and God? Who shall say?”

Now, 2,500 years later, many of us are still fascinated and puzzled by our relationship with our Creator. Most think God’s relationship and dealings with man are simply a great, unfathomable mystery.

On the other hand, we all understand that relationships are important. Our lives revolve around our families, friends, neighbors and associates. But where does God fit in?

What is the meaning of God’s relationship with man? What priority does He place on it? Does man need a relationship with God? If so, what is the basis and purpose of that relationship?

In this lesson we will carefully explore these vital questions and see how the Holy Scriptures answer them.

God Wants A Relationship With Us

Which came first, man's need for a relationship with God or God's desire for a relationship with man? Here is the answer.

We have all faced the age-old question about which came first, the chicken or the egg. The question could apply to our relationship with God: Which came first, man’s need for a relationship with God or God’s desire for a relationship with man? Here is the answer:

“We love Him because He first loved us,” explains the apostle John (1 John 4:19, emphasis added throughout). John also tells us, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10, New Revised Standard Version). Clearly, it was God’s desire and plan to establish a relationship between human beings and Himself.

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God is building a family—His own family. He created us so we can have a special Father-child relationship with Him.

We must keep in mind God’s purpose for creating us. Previous lessons of this Bible study course have extensively covered His purpose and plan for humanity. We learned that God designed human beings to reflect His very character—to be like Him. “In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God” (Genesis 5:1). “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

We need to consider a few basic principles about relationships before we delve into the details of God’s commitment to and His expectations from His relationship with us.

First we need to ask, What is a relationship? Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it as “the quality or state of being related, a continuing attachment or association between persons.”

God instituted this type of relationship with ancient Israel when He said, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people” (Leviticus 26:12)

These few words summarize what God wants in His relationship with people. Notice the two aspects of God’s simple statement.

First He expresses His desire that we acknowledge and accept Him as the Supreme Being. Then He expresses His desire to associate with—to have a relationship with—those who accept Him as their God.

Once we understand God desires a relationship with us, we should more than ever recognize we truly need Him. The apostle Paul reminds us: “There is no question of our having sufficient power in ourselves: we cannot claim anything as our own. The power we have comes from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5, Revised English Bible).

The apostle John briefly describes the nature of the relationship we are to have with God. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! . . . Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).

Here we see the purpose for the creation of mankind: God is building a family—His own family. He created us so we can have a special Father-child relationship with Him. God plans to bestow His immortality on us. As Paul explains, “this perishable body must be clothed with the imperishable, and what is mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53, REB). God wants an eternal relationship with us as His children.

Paul tells us that “God our Savior . . . desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God has planned a way to make this relationship available to every human being according to His timetable. As Peter wrote: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise,as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Notice Peter says repentance plays an integral role in cementing the relationship between God and man. God is eager to establish that relationship. But He conditions it on our willingness to recognize, acknowledge and repent of our former ways and determine to seek Him. Only then can God redeem us from the penalty of death we deserve because of our sins.

Who Is God Calling?

God must first call, or invite, us to enter into a relationship with Him. He does this by opening our minds to a basic understanding of the Scriptures and our need to repent.

Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). What is the difference between being called and being chosen? The Greek wordkletos , translated “called,” can also be translated “invited.” A calling by God is His offer, His invitation, to repent and enter into a relationship with Him.

In Romans 8:28-30 we read: “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called [ kletos , invited], because that was his plan . . . And he decided that they would be like his Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers. God planned for them to be like his Son; and those he planned to be like his Son, he also called; and those he called, he also made right with him; and those he made right, he also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30, New Century Version).

Yes, God must first call, or invite, us to enter into a relationship with Him. He does this by opening our minds to a basic understanding of the Scriptures and our need to repent.

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Yes, God must first call, or invite, us to enter into a relationship with Him. He does this by opening our minds to a basic understanding of the Scriptures and our need to repent.

Why must God invite us to have a relationship with Him? Christ answers that question in John 6:44: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him ; and I will raise him up at the last day.” If God did not place some understanding of His Word into our minds and provide us an incentive to repent, we would never recognize how much we need to change.

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Christ explained that the Sower (God) casts the seeds of invitation to many people. However, most do not accept God’s invitation to have a relationship with Him. Only a few do and eventually bear fruit.

But recognizing a need for change is only recognizing God’s calling. Only those who respond and repent are chosen for a special relationship with Him in the spiritual Body that is His Church. Paul addresses those who have accepted God’s invitation as “the church of God . . . , those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [invited] to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Those who repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38) are then chosen “for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

God invites many more into this special relationship than respond. However, the Bible reveals that most people who are called do not respond to their invitation for several reasons. That is why many more are called than are chosen for salvation today.

In the parable of the sower and the seed (Matthew 13:18-23) Christ explained that the sower (God) casts the seeds of invitation to many people. However, for various reasons, including deception by the “wicked one” (the devil), lack of spiritual roots, pressure from friends and relatives and the distraction of the physical cares of this life, most do not accept God’s invitation to have a close, personal relationship with Him. Only a few do and eventually bear fruit.

We must keep in mind that God sets terms on our relationship with Him. Millions of people claim to have a relationship with God, but in reality they have ignored the terms He set for us to enter into a relationship with Him. They want to have a relationship with God, but one based on their terms, not His. Thus we must clearly understand the terms of the relationship God wants to have with us.

Let’s examine that relationship. We will also review some historical relationships and see the lessons we may learn from them. Then we will consider what God expects from us and offers us through a relationship with Him.

Watch video: God Is Calling — Will You Answer?

How to Use Biblical Quotes and References

Although we quote many biblical references for your convenience, this is intended as a Bible study course. To receive the full benefit of each lesson, you must actively participate.

Often after a Bible quote, we add one or more scriptures after the word compare . These verses are usually similar to the passage already quoted, but often they add understanding and a broader perspective. In going through each lesson, we recommend that you look up each scripture cited.

We also make comments that support important points in the lesson. Such statements are sometimes followed by Bible references that are not quoted. Again, to receive the full benefit from these lessons, you should look up each reference. The extra time spent will be amply rewarded by increased understanding of the subject at hand.

The context of the quote is important as well. Often space prevents us from quoting as much of a particular passage as we might like to. So it is well worth your time and effort to look up even those passages that are already quoted in the lesson and read the verses before and after. As you do this you will increase your understanding of and familiarity with God’s Word, the Bible.

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