Many are Called but Few are Chosen

Being called of God is a great honor – whether that calling is to be a faithful saint of God (Romans 1:7) or a preacher of the gospel. In 1 Timothy 1:12-13, Paul expressed his heartfelt gratitude for having been called, saying, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord (for) putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy…” Paul recognized that he had not been called because he deserved it. His calling only came as a result of God’s great mercy!

And so it is with each of us. 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. (2 Timothy 1:9)

God has had plans for each of our lives from before the foundation of the world. And, whatever your calling is, it was in place before you were ever born – even as was Jeremiah’s. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

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Yet, while being called of God is very special, we must realize that it is not unique. For, as Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Jesus did not say that to belittle the call, but rather to let us know that – because of the sacredness of the call – there are some qualifications that must be met before our individual callings can be fulfilled.

So, the calling itself, as special as it is, does not obligate God to use us. It does not put God in a corner where He has no other options left than but to use us. God is very selective in regards to whom He uses. He has a very thorough testing and purging process that He sends all of His called through.

Malachi 3:3 says, “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” In this passage, the sons of Levi were likened to gold and silver that was refined and purged. So – after the testing, the purging and the fiery trials that the Lord allows us to go through, He looks at the results to see who has survived and who has come through untarnished and suitable for use by Him. When He likes what He sees, He says, “Behold, I have refined thee…I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10)

This understanding helps us to better grasp the words of Haggai 2:6-9 – “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace saith the LORD of hosts.”

God does not have to use us just because we are called. He would like to – but He does not have to. We do not have God in a corner. All the silver and gold is His. He has all the people on earth to choose from. He does not have to use faulty, second rate materials in the building of His church. He does not have to use wood, hay, and stubble – people who cannot survive the purging fire of the refiner. His options are much like those of wealthy King David’s when he was selecting materials for the building of Solomon’s temple. “And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly…Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the LORD an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver…Of the gold, the silver…there is no number.” (1 Chronicles 22:5, 14-16)

David, being the wealthy king that he was, did not have to just slap any old thing together. He could afford to be very selective. And so it is with Jesus. All the gold and silver (people) are His. He has all the people of the world to select from. Thus He can pass over the indifferent, the casual – all those who do not really have a heart for Him – and choose those that truly have a desire to fulfill His will in their lives. When the Jews thought they had Him in a corner, saying, “We have Abraham as our Father,” Jesus responded, “God can turn these rocks into children of Abraham.” Later, the Apostle Paul, in essence, told the Jews, “God doesn’t have to use you – we turn to the Gentiles…” When the Jews rejected Christ it did not leave God without options. For – if they didn’t want Him – Cornelius of the Italian band did. If the Jews rejected Him – He still had many like the Ethiopian eunuch – who were in earnest quest of Him.

So – being called – while very important – is just the beginning. Because of the many people who are called, only a relatively few are chosen. And they are chosen because they have remained faithful to Him through their furnace of affliction. They have come forth as gold! Revelation 17:14 tells us that those that will be with Jesus when He comes at Armageddon are “called, and chosen, and faithful.” I want to be in that number!

Rev. Robert Stroup is the District Superintendent of the Indiana District, United Pentecostal Church International. He is Pastor of Pentecostals of South Lake in Merrillville, Indiana.

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