This post is an excerpt from my bestselling book – Why Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen.
In order for us to begin to find answers to the reasons “Why Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen”, it is important that we begin by getting to understand what the call really is. In many Christian circles today, the term “call” is associated with being called into the fivefold ministry offices listed in Eph 4:11.
Meanwhile, there is a lot more to the subject than just that. As a matter of fact, a careful study of this subject reveals that there were more people called in the bible who weren’t called into the fivefold ministry than the number of those who were called into the fivefold ministry! So it will be erroneous to limit its definition to just those who are called into the fivefold ministry.
To start with, the word translated as “call” in the bible does not really refer to the conventional meaning of call or the call used in terms of placing a telephone call to a friend. It is derived from the Greek word “kaleo” which means to bid, call forth and surname a person. It means to issue a command, to direct and to instruct.
This presupposes that it is much more than a courtesy call or a suggestion to the one involved. It is actually the issue of a command or an instruction that leaves the “called” with no other alternative than to respond accordingly.
What It Really Means To Be Called
The Greek connotation also means to surname a person. And to explain this, I will like for us to take it from the simple meaning of “name” as used in scriptures.
While in the natural, we simply refer to a name as a means of identifying a person; in scripture language, a name is something much more than just an identity. It goes beyond just what you call someone. It is a description of a person’s character and authority.
A perfect example is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. While there were several people who went by the name Jesus when He was on earth; there is no other person named Jesus who is also the Christ. The name Christ in itself means the anointed one and the anointing that makes Him the Messiah.
There was and still is only one Jesus in the whole universe who is ever described as the Christ. There is only one Jesus who was anointed to be the messiah of the world. So Christ is much more than His last name but a statement of His character and authority. It qualifies the Jesus we are talking about and distinguished him from the rest of the world. This is what names refer to in Bible language.
The scripture tells us about Peter and John on their way to the temple at the hour of prayer. A certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple. When this man saw the apostles, he asked for alms from them.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. (Acts 3:4-8)
The phrase “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” here doesn’t look like he was referring to someone’s identity; does it? He was talking about authority and a character. He meant that he was acting in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. That was why when he was later accused and asked how he was able to do this, the accusers who were learned in the law chose their words carefully when they asked:
…By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? (Acts 4:7)
They understood that a name represents power and authority so they wanted to find out which authority these ordinary men used when they did this great work of power!
Another example is the case of one Joses in the early church. The Bible declares that several of the believers gave for the work of the ministry at the time. The Bible records that as many as were possessors of lands and houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them at the apostles’ feet and distribution was made to every man in accordance with their needs.
But then, it appeared like the church couldn’t do much in the area of missions and extension ministries until this man named Joses also sold his land and brought the money to the apostles. Evidently, the value of the land that Joses sold surpassed the rest that the others sold and the disciples were greatly consoled in the fact that they could now do much more than they had earlier done. It was then that they “surnamed” this Joses “Barnabas” which means “the son of consolation”! (See: Acts 4:36)
While there were several people who sold their lands and houses and gave the money for the work of the ministry, there was only one however who was surnamed, Barnabas. Even if amongst the givers, there were others named Joses, it was only one Joses that is identified by the character of a son of consolation!
So the surname here is not necessarily Joses’ family name but a name that describes the character of this man in question. It is in this sense that the word “call” is also defined as a surname.
The Definition Of The Call Of God
When we say someone has been called, it both means that he has received a command and an instruction for life as well as he has been surnamed or given a character and an authority to function in a defined direction in life. Nevertheless, for the purpose of this teaching, I will like to define the call as:
A supernatural instruction, an invitation or summon of Almighty God to an ordinary and unspectacular person to carry out an extraordinary task that separates and distinguishes him from the rest of the world.
In the definition above, you will see that I implied that the call comes from God. This differentiates it from ambition or a dream that may be self-generated or inspired by other factors of life. This equally differentiates a call from a profession or vocation that you have chosen for yourself.
When we talk about the call, we are talking about God instructing, directing and summoning an individual for a defined task. We are talking about God reaching out and hand picking a particular person to take responsibility for the actualization of a dream or plan that the He has in His mind. The call is God reaching out to an individual to become His partner in the solving of a problem He has identified and is concerned about.
Why God Calls Men
When you read in Psalms 115:16, the bible says:
“The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16)
“The heaven of heavens is for God but he put us in charge of the earth” (Psalm 115:16 – MSG)
What the Spirit is communicating to us here is the fact that while God lives in heaven, He has given the children of men the charge over the earth. As such, even if He wanted to actualize something here on earth, He requires a man to do so. Hence He calls and separates men for specific assignments that He has designed and carefully thought out.
Take the call of Moses for example; the Bible records that while Moses was busy about his occupation (keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law) at the time, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the bush. As Moses looked, he observed that the bush burned and yet, the bush was not consumed!
“And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” (Ex 3:3)
Something I will like you to note here is the fact that after this occasion, God never appeared to Moses for any reason in a burning bush again. This only occurred once because the Lord wanted to get Moses’ attention. It is the same thing with God trying to get people’s attention today but unfortunately, some of them are too busy about their work and life that they do not even notice that the Lord was trying to get to them.
Always remember that God always talks to the man that cares. You cannot be too busy that God can’t even reach you and expect to make something meaningful out of your life or call. Click To Tweet
The Lord set up this interesting site just to get Moses to listen to Him and I will like to state categorically that until God got his attention, He didn’t utter a word to Moses!
“And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.” (Ex 3:4)
After God had his attention and they began to converse, the Lord introduced Himself to Moses as the God of his fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. Then God stated His mission and assignment in clear terms because He knew it will take the clarity of the call for the called to ever fulfill his calling.
“And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;” (Ex 3:7)
From this verse of scripture, you will discover that the Israelites who had been in bondage for several years have been crying unto God for deliverance. Year after year they pleaded their case before the Almighty and hoped that he would one day save them from their wicked taskmasters. From all indications, God heard their prayers and wanted to do something about their predicament for the Bible records that He even said He had surely seen their afflictions, heard their cry and knew their sorrows.
Nevertheless, the fact that God lived in heaven and had given the earth to the children of men meant that He could personally do nothing on the earth without the use of a human being. Get this, only beings with a physical body have the license to live and function in the earth. So he needed someone licensed to function in the earth to help fulfill His plan of deliverance for the Israelites.
In the same way, God is counting on you for the actualization of something really dear to His heart today and it is my earnest prayerBible that like never before, you will walk in the fulfillment of that calling in Jesus name.
So in verse eight, the Lord said to Moses:
“And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.” (Ex 3:8)
For a while, Moses may have said “Wow! Lord, you are come down? Let me quickly go and tell the Israelites that you are come down to deliver them and to bring them into a good and a large land that flows with milk and honey”
Moses may have even thought “Oh, at last, there is a way out of these almost four hundred years of bondage” but just before Moses could finalize any funny ideas he was having, the Lord added:
“Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Ex 3:9-10)
Now the Lord lets the cat out of the bag!
He tells Moses that on account of the cry of the people that had come unto Him and because of the oppression wherewith they were oppressed by the Egyptians, He was going to send Moses to bring forth His people out of Egypt.
At this point, Mr. Moses would have wondered, “Lord, I thought you said you were come down to deliver your people? How come you are talking about sending me again?” But here is the point I wanted to make from this account.
When God has a task He intends to accomplish in the earth, He does it by finding a man to send. When He finds one, He calls that one and gives him the mandate to actualize His plan. God comes to the aid of people only in and… Click To Tweet
Over in the New Testament, as soon as the first miracle occurred while Peter and John were on their way to the temple at the hour of prayer, the Bible records that the authorities frowned at what had happened. The Sadducees came upon them and kept them in detention till the following day.
On the following day, their rulers, elders, scribes, Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander all gathered together at Jerusalem. Then they called Peter and John in and asked them “by what power or by what name, have you done this?”
Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost responded and told them all that was done was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom they all crucified but God raised from the dead. After a long conversation, they decided to let them go but with a strict warning to see to it that they preached or taught no more in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then Peter and John went to their own company where they reported the whole matter, especially what the chief priests and elders had said to them. After hearing that, the church lifted up their voices to God in prayer. They reported the matter to the Lord and asked that He would grant them boldness to speak the word like they ought to and that He would stretch forth His hand to heal and perform signs and wonders in the name of Jesus Christ. Having prayed this way, they went about their daily business expecting the answer of the Lord.
You know sometimes I wonder what in the world they expected as an answer to this prayer. Whether they were hoping that hands will come out of heaven to get the job done or what? But God sure answered in a way that is typical of the way He operates and functions in the earth today. He answered through the “called out ones”
Just in the next chapter, we read:
“And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.” (Acts 5:12)
Does anyone have a reason to say God didn’t answer their prayers? Isn’t this obviously an answer to their heartfelt prayers?
Always remember that the church is the body of Christ and He always functions in the earth through His body rather than His person! Click To Tweet
The Lord so stretched forth his hands through the apostles that the Bible added:
“And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” (Acts 5:14-15)
The hand of God was so much on Peter that every move he made was a miracle! When he waved, it was a miracle. When he smiled it was a miracle. Even when he passed by, it was a miracle! Soon enough, people reasoned that his shadows would heal the sick as well. They then decided to lay sick people along his path. I mean on every street Peter was likely to pass by, they laid sick people on the left and on the right side of the road. And true to their expectations, the Bible records that every single one of them was healed. What an answer to prayer!
It is in the same manner that God calls people today in answer to the prayer and cry of many over a condition from which they could not help themselves.
Always remember that the church is the body of Christ and He always functions in the earth through His body rather than His person! Click To Tweet
This is what the calling is all about. This is what it means to be called.