Our Calling Our Purpose – Careers or Sanctification?

There is a common understanding that our calling is our occupation, career, or job; and that it is what we were made for and is the purpose of our life. It implies that what we do in our work should influence or impact other people’s lives in a positive, lasting way. This common understanding of our calling sounds righteous, noble, valuable. Does the Bible say God calls us to a career that influences others and, therefore, is the job he wants us to do? How do we know what our calling is?

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YHWH is calling us

And Peter {said} to them, Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself (Acts 2:38-40).

Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: (Jude 1:1).

These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him {are the} called and chosen and faithful (Rev 17:14).

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass (1Thes 5:24).

From the above references we can see that it is the Father who initiates the call, we respond. What is the purpose of his call? In the story of Jacob and Esau Paul explains God’s calling. “For though {the twins} were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to {His} choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls” (Rom 9:11).

Jacob and Esau had done nothing, they hadn’t even been born. But God calls Jacob to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel and rejects Esau. In the same way we are called, not according to our special qualities or deeds, but according to His grace and purpose. Paul explains further.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with {me} in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace . . . (2 Tim 1:8-9).

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption . . . (1 Cor 1:30).

Since it is God who calls us, we cannot be proud of ourselves, of our upbringing, of our own effort, or of our education. The credit belongs to the Father, based solely on his purpose and mercy. What have we been called out of?

But go and learn what {this} means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners‘ (Matt 9:13).

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another (Titus 3:3).

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings . . . (Gal 5:19-21).

This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God . . . (Eph 4:17-18).

But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (1 Pet 2:9-10)

We’ve been called out of the deeds of darkness. We were sinners, foolish people, walking in the futility of our minds, doing the works of the flesh. Each of these scriptures lists examples of deeds that are contrary to the calling of God, deeds which we did before we knew how to behave as God’s own possession as Peter tells us. And there is still more to this calling.

YHWH calls us by name:

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine (Isa 43:1).

To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out’ (Jo 10:3).

YHWH calls us my people:

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jer 31:33).

And I will sow her for myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘{Thou art} my God!’ (Hos 2:23).

YHWH calls us sons:

Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it will come about that, in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “{you are} the sons of the living God” (Hos 1:10).

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Rom 8:14).

{even} us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.'” “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God” (Rom 9:24-26).

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and {such} we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him (1 John 3:1).

Jesus calls us friends:

No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you . . . (John 15:15-16).

We are called saints:

Among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called {as} saints . . . (Rom 1:6-7).

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their {Lord} and ours (1Cor 1:2).

We belong to God as His people, His sons, His friends and saints (set apart ones). He is developing an intimate relationship with us. What happens to those who are called by God and can we know his purpose for this special calling? Again we turn to the scriptures to understand this calling.

We are called to be holy:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctifyher, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless (Eph 5:25-26).

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts {which were yours} in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all {your} behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy (1 Pet 1:14-16).

We are called to fellowship, love, and peace:

God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1Cor 1:9).

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only {do} not {turn} your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Gal 5:13).

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the body; and be thankful (Col 3:15).

We are called into covenant with God:

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright {and} clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God” (Rev 19:7-9).

We are called to inherit eternity:

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1Tim 6:12).

And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were {committed} under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15).

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen {and} establish you (1 Pet 5:10).

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Heb 3:1).

An intimate calling

The Father calls us to the intimate relationship of a father with his children, or the bridegroom with his bride. He calls us by name to share His eternal life. We must conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of belonging to the Most High God. This will take a lifetime, but here are a few ways to begin.

Just as you know how we {were} exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father {would} his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory (1Thes 2:11-12).

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth . . . Be angry, and {yet} do not sin . . . Let him who steals steal no longer . . . Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such {a word} as is good for edification . . . Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice (Eph 4:25-31).

But if when you do what is right and suffer {for it} you patiently endure it, this {finds} favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example . . .. He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting {Himself} to Him who judges righteously (1 Pet 2:20-23).

To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing (1 Pet 3:8-9).

But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints . . . but rather giving of thanks . . . you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light {consists} in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (Eph 5:3,4, 8-10).

But solid food is for full grown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil (Heb 5:14).

I call Heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, that you may live, you and your seed, to love Jehovah your God, to listen to His voice, and to cleave to Him, for He is your life . . . (Deu 30: 19-20).

Strive for the upward calling

Remember we are called out of the unfruitful deeds of darkness into His light. We can’t stop when we feel we’re so much better than we used to be. Neither can we stop when we feel we haven’t made much progress. We keep striving for excellence in our sanctification so that Jesus Christ may be glorified in us, not under our own power, but as partakers of the divine nature, in covenant with our great God and Father, bond-servants of righteousness.

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us {instruction} as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification (1Thes 4:1, 7).

To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power; in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Th 1:11-12).

Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness . . . in order that by them you might become partakers of {the} divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust . . . Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you (2Pet 1:3-4, 10-11).

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus… who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself (Phil 3:14, 21).

In Eph 1:17-23 Paul prayed for us to know the hope of God’s calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in us, His saints. Perhaps we have a deeper understanding of that calling; what it is about, where it leads and how to participate in it. May this be our daily meditation as we strive toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. May we be encouraged in our daily life to fully comprehend what God called us out of, and what he calls us to. We are his people with a purpose: to be holy like him, sharing his divine nature, inheriting his blessing.