WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ABOUT THE CALL OF GOD
The call of God to salvation is unlike any other call. It is a call that is very necessary for one to be saved. A man cannot inherit the Kingdom of God unless he answers the call of God. The call of God is a very powerful call. The Lord uses the gospel witness to powerfully proclaim the Truth to convict and arrest the sinner. The Lord is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).
The powerful call of God is also a personal call. God powerfully delivers the gospel to the individual. God does not save en-mass but individually. "Whosoever will may come."
This section introduces Godís call to several of the disciples. Just as there is a call to salvation, there is also a call to service. From observing the call of the disciples, one may note the similarities that exist in the way God calls servants today.
I. THE CURIOSITY OF THE DISCIPLES v. 35
We live in the "information age." This is an age in which messages are being communicated around the globe at the speed of light. These same messages are becoming easier and more conveniently sent. But just as this period has been called the "information age," it very well could be called the misinformation age because of the scarcity of truth. The same was true during the time John the Baptist was introducing the Lamb of God. There was then a hunger and curiosity for the true things of God considering that there were several centuries when there was no word from Him.
After the silent years, John explodes on the scene and cries, "Behold the Lamb of God!" He, whom the prophets had spoken of, and the people had waited for, was now being introduced. Providentially the stage is now set, the curtain is soon to be raised, the great drama of the ages is about to unfold. John, who introduces the principle player, has already aroused the audience to behold the one who is to be thrust upon the center stage. "Behold the Lamb Ö" "Behold the Lamb of God!"
THEY WERE CURIOUS AS A RESULT OF OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY
John introduced the Lord as the Lamb of God. The Lamb of God was predicted throughout the Old Testament, beginning with Abelís lamb. Abelís lamb was sacrificed for a person. The Passover lamb was available for a family; the Lamb of Isaiah 53 was for a nation. Now, John introduces that Lamb, Jesus, who is the sacrifice for the whole world.
The religious world had known the common teachings prophesying the coming of the Lamb. They knew that He was to be a scion of Davidís kingly line, that He was to be born in Bethlehem. They also knew that He was to be born of a virgin, that He was to be a sojourner in Egypt for a period of time.
"Could this really be the One that we have looked for?" they must have thought. The declaration John made of Him was as though He was crying, "He is here!" When He was later raised from the dead, as the Sacrificial Lamb, they were able to cry, "He is risen!" One day the saints will cry, "He has returned!"
Just as there was curiosity surrounding His first coming, there is now curiosity having to do with His second coming. There are many questions that relate to the new millennium. As I am writing this, there are many concerns pertaining to "Y2K." There are those suggesting a world wide crisis resulting from the "Y2K" phenomenon, which also could signal the beginning of the tribulation, preceded by the rapturing up of the church.
Even so come quickly!
II. THE CALL OF THE DISCIPLES vv. 36-45
The call of two of the disciples was a direct result of the spoken word. One of the two is identified as Andrew, the other was probably John the author of the gospel of John, and also the Revelation prophecy. John, while emphasizing the principle of giving the glory to the Lamb, when writing about John the Baptist, seemed to be practicing what he was preaching. Very likely this was the reason for him not identifying himself.
Just as these disciples "heard him speak, and they followed Jesus" (v. 37), we should also listen to Him speak through His written Word. David knew the meaning of following Godís Word when He said, "Make me to go in the paths of the commandments; for therein do I delight."
While serving the Lord there must be a sense of direction and of purpose. The direction and the purpose is clearly defined in Godís Word. The Word illuminates the path of the servant (Psalm 119:105).
The servant gains wisdom to serve by asking of the Lord (James 1:5). To ask of the Lord is to ask of His Word. The servant gains protection in his serving by hiding the Word in his heart (Psalm 119:11). The Word directs the servant to the Lord who is his Shield (Psalm 119:114). The same Word that helps the servant to ascertain his call also points him in the right direction, gives him purpose, and provides for his protection.
THEY WERE CALLED DIRECTLY
The sensitive servant is open to instructions from the Lord relative to his being called. The sensitive servant will be directly singled out. God using His Word, by His Spirit, can call His servants directly from the throne room. A call of this nature may take place while the Christian is in a period of meditation and prayer. He also may sense the call while listening to the preacher preach from his pulpit. He may even be working on his job when the Lord impresses him with a call from above. In either instance the call is directly from the Lord.
THEY WERE CALLED DIFFERENTLY
Just as the call of salvation is different from person to person, the call to service usually originates in a set of different circumstances. John the Baptist announced the "Lamb of God" and Andrew and John began to follow Jesus. When they were convinced of the realness of Jesus as being the Messiah, Andrew went and found his brother Simon Peter, saying, "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ."
Both Andrew and Peter were fisherman (Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16-18) from Bethsaida (John 1:44), on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee. They also had a house at Capernaum. Andrew bringing his brother Simon to meet the Messiah serves as a model or prototype for all who bring others to Christ.
Andrew is not mentioned as much or as often as Simon Peter but will receive the rewards of Peter for having brought him to Jesus. Though the Scriptures do not extremely detail Andrews life, tradition says Andrew was martyred at Patrae in Achaia by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross. Andrew called Jesusí attention to the boy with five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:5-9) at the feeding of the 5000.
After Simon Peter was brought to Jesus, Jesus said to Simon, "Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone" (v. 42). This pronouncement may have startled Simon Peter because we learn that Peter at the beginning was anything but a "stone." Yet God can see the end from the beginning and knows what is written on the very last page. After much testing and training, Simon Peter became a "Rock of Gibraltar" in the faith!
The call of Philip was another example of how each call was different. Philip was personally called by Jesus. Jesus went into Galilee and found Philip. Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
Philip then found Nathanael or Bartholomew, as he was also called. Philip told Nathanael that, "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (v. 45).
III. THE CONVICTION OF THE DISCIPLES vv. 46-51
To establish a call there must be a sense of having been called and having a conviction that settles that call. Nathanael who was a native of Cana in Galilee was troubled when told that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. He knew that Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up, was not mentioned in the Old Testament prophecies. He questioned whether any good thing could come out of Nazareth (v. 46).
CONVICTION WAS BASED UPON FULFILLED PROPHECY
In the case of Nathanael, he recognized the omniscience of Christ. He found that Christ already knew him; only a prophet could have known him and about his most recent activities. In this particular case, the Prophet, was also Priest and King. Nathanael addressed Him as "Rabbi," "Son of God," and the "King of Israel."
Jesusí earthly ministry began with a call to salvation, and a call to service. As we progress in our studies of this wonderful book, we will see that service is within Godís plan. Christ Jesus came as the lowly servant to do His Fatherís will just as we are to do His will today.
Serving is a great privilege. It is the privilege of seeing the Great Master, and what a privilege that is. Also, the servant will receive a generous payment. "Well done thou good and faithful servant!"
Material From Dr. Max Alderman, Ph.D