Paul argues that at the very core of the purpose of God is the concept of election, of God calling out select people to bear His name (Acts 15:14). The purpose of God must needs be selective. If all were called and all were chosen none would seek to give Him glory by manifesting His character, thereby defeating His very purpose of filling the earth with His glory. God revealed His name to Moses – “I will be manifest in whom I will be manifest” – a Name, which clearly conveys that the purpose of God is by election.

His own special people

The apostle makes the point that those who are called are not called based on any personal merit but rather by the grace and mercy of God. They are not deserving of the favour shown them, just as those who are not called have not done anything per se to disqualify them from God’s grace. Both, in that sense, are equally undeserving. It is not for us to question why He chooses to have mercy on some and not on others. Is He not entitled to raise them up fit for a certain role in the achievement of His grand purpose, making out of the same clay, vessels for noble purposes and vessels for common use? Quoting the prophet Hosea, Paul says, “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one”, and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God’” (Rom 9:25,26 niv).

Brethren and sisters, how often do we pause and reflect on the fact that we of all people on the face of this earth have been called to be sons and daughters of the living God (cp Acts 2:39); that He chose to adopt us as His sons and daughters making us jointheirs of the promises with His only begotten Son (Rom 8:15–17)! In the words of Peter, He called us to be citizens of “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Pet 2:9–12 nkjv; Rom 1:6). He chose to make us vessels unto honour and not dishonour! We, in the well-known words of 1 Peter 1:3–4, have been begotten again unto a living hope, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that will never fade away, kept in heaven for us – for you and me! There is a place reserved in the kingdom of God for us, the elect of God!

Feeling unworthy

But despite all of this, there are times when we can feel burdened with sin and overcome with a feeling of our own unworthiness. We might be depressed by our weaknesses and constant failure to walk worthy of our calling, weighed down by a feeling that we are not worthy to be numbered among the sons and daughters of God. And yet, brethren and sisters, that is the very point we have seen from Romans 9. We are not worthy of God’s love, His mercy or His compassion; we have been called by His grace, which is something by definition we can never be deserving of. Indeed, in many ways if we feel this way, it is to us that our God will look. We might be brokenhearted, bruised and battered by the many trials of life, perhaps even feeling lost or disillusioned. Let us remember that our Lord was sent to heal the brokenhearted; to set at liberty them that are bruised and to seek out and save them that are lost (see Luke 4:18; 19:10). None of us, brethren and sisters, are beyond the saving reach of our Lord Jesus. If a sense of our own unworthiness instils in us a humble and a contrite spirit then it will bring us to God. If on the other hand it leads us to give in, to give up in despair, then it will lead us away from God due to underestimating His grace and the power of His forgiveness – our Lord cannot forgive one who underestimates the very power of His forgiveness! So if we are perhaps feeling as if we are beyond forgiveness, let’s remember the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason was I shown mercy [why?] so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Tim 1:15,16 niv). Paul is imploring us to believe that none of us are beyond the mercy and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus. He is saying to us who might feel down or depressed, ‘Look at me, the worst of sinners. Christ Jesus showed mercy to me, so you might appreciate the unlimited patience he will show to you.’ And think, too, of our loving heavenly Father: He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust and “like as a father pitieth his children, so Yahweh pitieth them that fear him” (Psa 103:13–14). The word “pitieth” means to love deeply or to be deeply moved with compassion. This is how our Father feels toward us, His children; He knows our weaknesses, He knows our mortality. When we are troubled and distressed, when we are down and depressed, our Father is moved with compassion toward us; His heart goes out to us just as our hearts go out to our own children when we see them suffering. Our God is not cold, harsh and unmoved but rather, as our Father, He knows our weaknesses, He knows our failings; and, just as in times like this we as a parent would be there to provide our child with a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or a hand to hold, so it is with our heavenly Father – He will never leave us nor forsake us and especially not in our darkest hours of need (Heb 13:5). Even when we find ourselves in the valley of the shadow of death, our Father is with us there; His rod and His staff are there to comfort us (Psalm 23).

Our God is for us

As the elect and chosen of God, we have nothing to fear. Consider these words from the Psalms: ‘When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee … In God I trust … I will not be afraid for God is for me … In Thee my soul takes refuge … I will take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings’ (see Psalms 56 and 57). Do we have this confidence in our Father? Think of the amazing position we are in as the called of God: marked out that we might allow God’s Word to mould us to the character of Christ; “called … justified … and … glorified” as Paul so eloquently states in Romans 8:28,29. Like Paul, we exclaim, “What shall we then say to these things?” Like the Psalmist, we must conclude with Paul, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (v31) We state assuredly with Paul that nothing shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (v38,39). Just as those of us as parents want the best for our children, so it is with our Father. As no parent would want to reject their child or see their own child weeping and gnashing its teeth, so it is with our Father. He will take no pleasure in seeing us fail. On the contrary it will be His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom, just as we take pleasure in giving gifts to our children and seeing their happiness. Our God is for us, brethren and sisters, not against us – He has called us to glory, not to failure. And if God gave even His only begotten Son for us, His adopted sons and daughters, does that not tell us that He will freely give us all things. Paul puts it simply: our Father “hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5:9). Jeremiah says that our Father has thoughts of peace, and not of evil toward us, to give us an end full of expectation and hope (see Jer 29:11). And think of what we have got to look forward to! Think of these words, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor 2:9; cp Eph 1:18; 2:7).

Why? why? why?

So why would we ever consider turning our back on such a wonderful calling, on the grace, the mercy, the love and compassion of our Father? Why would we ever think of walking away from the hope we have or of turning our back on the one who gave his life to save us? Why would we, who have been made free from sin, decide to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Rom 6:7,18,22; 8:2; Gal 5:1; Heb 2:15)? It would be incongruous for us, who have been promised the Kingdom, to choose to entangle ourselves with all that this world has to offer – to reject the gift of God, which is eternal life, and choose rather to receive the wages of sin … to choose death (2 Tim 2:4; Rom 6:23; 2 Pet 2:20–21)! Are we at times no different from those in the world around us that, because sentence against our sin is not executed speedily, our hearts sometimes are set on doing evil (Eccl 8:11)? Paul exhorts us to, “walk worthy of God, who is calling us [as it should read] unto his kingdom and glory” (1 Thess 2:12; cp Eph 4:1). Are we starting to ignore that call? Are we starting to turn an increasingly deaf ear to our Father’s call? Brethren and sisters, each one of us has been called – of that there is no question. The question that remains is, who of us will be chosen; for we know that, “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 20:16; 22:14).

So, brethren and sisters, rather than succumbing to the temptation to give up, to ‘drop our bundle’ or ‘toss in the towel’, let us determine to hold on and remain faithful to our calling. Let us never underestimate the grace of our God or the power of His forgiveness. There is a very real danger in us regarding our Father as a “hard man”, Who has set the bar so high that, like the disciples, we wonder who can be saved? We fear that someone who has done what we have done could never be in the Kingdom; so we spend our lives going through the motions – never really seeing ourselves in the Kingdom, the end result of which is that we never will be there. If we’ve ever felt this way, let’s conclude by looking at just a few verses that should be of great comfort to us.

Romans 10:9–13

“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Let’s remember, “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isa 42:3 niv). If we cling on to a real and unfeigned faith deep within our hearts, no matter how weak it might ebb at times, we will be in the Kingdom. Brother Islip Collyer once observed that no brother or sister has ever left the Truth for any reason other than a lack of faith … and, I believe, he’s right. People or circumstances may have rocked their faith, but could those people or circumstances ever be justification for walking away from our Father and turning our back on the Lord Jesus, who died for us? In the final analysis it will all come down to faith or the lack thereof! Will we persevere? Will we endure to the end? Will we keep the faith? When we look into the eyes of our Lord Jesus it is by faith that we will stand and without that we will fall. For “it is of faith, that it might be by grace” (Rom 4:16). If we believe it deep down in our hearts, we should take courage; we should keep our chins up – look up and lift up our heads for our redemption draws nigh … it is by faith that we will have access into the grace in which we hope to stand – it is by grace that we will be saved … through faith (Rom 5:2; Eph 2:8).

1 Corinthians 1:8–9 (niv)

“He [God] will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” Paul adds, “The one who calls you is faithful … he will do it” (1 Thess 5:24 niv; see also Jude 24). Brethren and sisters, our God is faithful – He will never forsake us nor leave us to walk alone.

2 Thessalonians 2:13

“God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold onto [as it should read] the traditions which ye have been taught.” The end God had in mind for us from the beginning was our salvation, that we might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus. Ought we not then to be strong, to stand firm and cling onto our first love? The race that is set before us, is not a race that we will win of our own strength but it is a race that must be run! It is not all about winning but it is all about enduring. It’s about going the distance; it’s a race to be finished. As soldiers of Christ, it’s less about marching forward and more about digging in and holding out; of standing our ground, of refusing to give in and refusing to fall back (see Eph 6:13–14).

Hebrews 10:23,35–37

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) … For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Brethren and sisters, we are on the eve of our Lord’s return. We have run hard. Let us not give in at the last hurdle or give up in the final straight. We have fought hard and stood our ground – many for many years. Yes, we might be weary; yes, our strength may be failing, but let us hold our ground side by side ‘in the trenches’ with our brethren and sisters. Let’s not desert our fellow soldiers and the captain of our salvation in the final hours of battle. In just a little while our Lord Jesus will finally be here. Our Lord’s words in Matthew are both a sober warning and a source of great encouragement: “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold [is this not sadly true of many in our community today?]. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (ch 24:12–13). May we be among those who endure faithful to the end.

So then, in view of our gracious calling and as the elect and chosen of God, let us commit to saying “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, while we wait for the “glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own” (see Titus 2:11–14). And finally, let us be all the more eager to make our calling and election sure. For if we do these things, we will never fall. We will receive a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:9–12; Phil 3:13–14).