From Our Bulletin – August 7, 2011
Some time ago I received an email requesting my help in spreading the news about a new business which is soon to open. These entrepreneurs stated that for a few years they had “felt God calling” them to this new endeavor. They further stated that they were now being obedient to that call. This sort of thing is nothing knew to me, I hear it frequently. But as a student of God’s word, it always sounds rather strange.
Oh yes, in the Bible people are sometimes called of God for some special work. For example, Noah was instructed of God to build an ark; Abraham was called of God to another country; Moses was called at the burning bush; Jonah was sent of God to preach in Nineveh; and there were others. But these did not just feel that they were called of God to these particular endeavors – God actually spoke to them. We are even told what God said. Their experiences are quite different from those who today speak of feeling God’s call.
The same holds true in the New Testament. Some were called for specific tasks, for example: Philip to preach to the Ethiopian eunuch; Ananias to go to Saul of Tarsus; Peter to carry the gospel to the house of Cornelius; Paul to bear the message of Christ to the Gentile world, etc. But again, none of these just felt the call to a particular endeavor rather they were each given verbal instructions.
All Christians are called of God. But even that call does not originate by a feeling inside oneself rather we are called by the gospel. Paul in his letter to the Christians at Thessalonica wrote, “Wherefore he [God] called you by our gospel.” (2 Thessalonians 2:14)
We need to be careful to always speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11). Otherwise, we may be attributing something to God that is really only the thoughts of our own heart.
Paul in his second epistle to Timothy urged him to not be ashamed of the gospel. He wrote: “Be not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.” (2 Timothy 1:8) One might reasonably ask, “Why?” Why not be ashamed of the gospel? After all, it was illegal and it had landed Paul himself in prison.
The next few verses offer two excellent reasons why we should never, under any circumstances, be ashamed of the gospel. First, God has “saved us, and called us with an holy calling.” (2 Timothy 1:9) There are many honorable and prestigious callings one may pursue in this life but none compare to our holy calling. In a world of violence, vulgarity, and every other expression of evil, holiness stands out as a model of the way life ought to be.
Second, Jesus Christ has “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10) Man has a built-in longing for immortality. Our psyche is repelled by death. The gospel of Christ, and it alone, offers to man real hope of life and immortality.
What a combination: the most noble life possible in this world and immortality in the next. We ought not to be ashamed of the gospel. In fact, we should not even be shy, timid, hesitant, or reluctant to share the gospel with others. We have the greatest message in the world.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
What do a fantasy football service and a seafood restaurant have in common? The advertisement firms they both hired that played on words that made the commercial viewers hear one word but think of another extremely vulgar, profane word. Is this part of a linguistic trend in our culture that seems to love to give a good shock to anyone who might still have sensitivity toward foul language?
You hear it in drug references, referring to behavior, good or bad, as likened to one smoking, inhaling, or intravenously taking something illegal (or in the case of marijuana in Washington and Colorado, now legal). You hear it in crass references to body parts. You hear it in sexually suggestive and charged words, anywhere from “hot” and “sexy” to the more vulgar in an attempt to describe a project, product, or person.
In Ephesians 5, Paul tells Christians how to “walk.” Apparently, the walk includes the “talk.” To begin, he commands us to imitate God and walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Then, Paul describes how we should not walk. He begins with actions of the mind and the body, then in verse four says, “…Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” To put an exclamation point on the discussion, he says that those practicing such things have no inheritance in the kingdom. That’s pretty serious!
Our speech is powerful. One wise word may result in a soul’s salvation. As death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21), let’s heed the advice of the children’s song—”Be careful little mouths what you say!”