CALLED, CALLING, AND CALLED OUT
Acts 2:21, 39-41, 47
1. Life is made of calls.
a. A ball game may turn on a call made or not made, and a game show has a lifeline with which a contestant may call a friend.
b. The sound of your phone informs you that someone is thinking of you, and the content of the call may bring enjoyment or responsibility into your life.
c. An invitation may call you to a celebration, or a summons may call you to court. Life is all about calls.
2. The scriptures are about calls, and how we stand in relation to them, too.
a. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the crucial chapter of the Bible, the second chapter of Acts.
b. This is when the apostles were empowered by the Spirit of truth to be witnesses of Christ, when they announced for the first time what the resurrection of Jesus means and what people are to do about it, and when the church was established.
c. What they said began and ended with calling.
i. Acts 2:21
ii. Acts 2:39
iii. Acts 2:47b
1. The Called
a. Peter said that because this Jesus who was crucified has been raised up and is now exalted as both Lord and Christ, there is a promise for “everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (v.39).
i. The fact that it is a promise means the initiative rests with the Lord; in some sense nothing happens without his call.
ii. But this is a call to a promise which is “for you and your children” – in other words, for every generation.
iii. And it is “for you...and for all who are far off” – that is, for every race or nation.
b. The New Testament teaches that God’s issuance of such a call is a central act in his eternal purpose.
i. Romans 8:28-30
ii. His call is like a summons to recognize his purpose, or like an invitation to partake of the blessings he worked to provide.
iii. A hint of both privilege and command are implied in it, as if to make it clear that when a man ignores the divine invitation, he not only misses an opportunity, but may be squandering his life and hope. (DNTT I 274)
c. The scriptures also have something to say, even in our text, about how God calls anyone to himself.
i. In fact, he was doing it as Peter told them what he had done through Jesus and as he exhorted them to save themselves from that crooked generation.
ii. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
iii. God calls people to himself in a manner which summons us to recognize what he has done, invites us to partake of the benefits, and respects our ability to chose.
2. The Calling
a. Our response to having heard the Lord call us to himself may appropriately be thought of as “calling upon the name of the Lord.”
i. Peter had begun by announcing that on that very day Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v.21).
ii. He then told them about the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus so they would know the Lord whose name we should call upon is.
iii. It follows that when he said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (v.38), he was telling them how to call upon the name of the Lord.
b. It’s a picture loaded with wonderful meaning.
i. His name stands for who he is, what he has done, and what he wills.
ii. Calling upon his name means confessing who he is, claiming the benefits of what he has done for yourself, and declaring yourself to be dedicated to his claims upon your life. (Vine)
iii. We save ourselves from personal guilt and from the fate of a crooked generation only in the sense of calling upon his name for ourselves.
(1) It’s like what would happen if someone signed his name on a check for a thousand dollars and gave it to you. He would be authorizing you to draw from the bank upon which the check is was written that amount of money. The payment of the check would not depend upon your having an account in that bank with enough funds accumulated to cover it, but on the deposits of that person who signed it. By presenting that check, you ask payment in his name.
(2) In the same way, the Lord has permitted us to draw on the bank of heaven, not because of any deposits or claims we have on it, but in his name. Because he is the sinless Son of God, God will grant the payment. (adapted from M. Lyon)
(3) Here the payment is forgiveness, and that’s what is promised to anyone who repents and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ!
c. This connection with calling upon the name of the Lord allows us to avoid two common but opposite misunderstandings of baptism.
i. Acts 22:16
ii. 1 Peter 3:21
3. The Called Out
a. The Lord or God called those who gladly received his word. They called upon his name by being baptized in it. A significant detail comes next.
i. Acts 2:41
ii. Acts 2:47
iii. The called who were calling became the called out!
b. This is one of the best ways for us to understand the nature and importance of the church.
i. The number of people who were being saved this way were called the church (cf. Acts 5:11).
ii. The New Testament words for “call,” “calling,” and “called” all have the same root as the word “church.” (Ferguson 86)
iii. 1 Corinthians 1:2
c. When God calls us to himself, he also calls us to each other. In calling upon the name of the Lord, we come into contact with those who are called by his name. Being saved by him means that we must be his people.
i. Calling upon his name saves us; being called by his name becomes a way of life and the purpose of our existence (cf. Acts 2:42).
ii. One side of being the called is the separation from the world and the being set apart for the worship and service of God that occurs through our response to the gospel. We become holy to the Lord because of our divine calling (2 Thes. 2:13).
iii. The other side of calling on the name of the Lord is to have his name called upon us (James 2:7). From Old Testament days, those over whom the Lord’s name was called were considered to enjoy his protection and blessing (Deut. 28:10). (Ferguson 212)
1. Called. Calling. Called out. In this one concept there is a balance which is badly needed in all things spiritual in all our lives.
a. There is a balance between the gracious work of God, our own personal response to him, and the people to whom we belong as a result.
b. There is a balance between the knowledge that our hope does not depend on our own power, and that we are not alone in our journey, but that we do have a responsibility in how we live and in the way we serve.
2. Ephesians 4:1, 4