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How Jesus Followers are Called

Picture from Knowing Jesus

By Benjamin H. Liles

          But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God - 1 Corinthians 1:24, NLT 2007


          I would like to think when Paul wrote these words he was meditating on Proverbs 9:10, "Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment (NLT 2007)." The reason I say that is because Paul always spread the gospel of Christ, first to the Jew and then to the Gentile (those of us who cannot be traced to the ancestry of Israel). 

          How is this done if we're still in sin and God's enemies? It is by the power of Christ and having a fear of the Lord. As it says, "knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (see second half of Proverbs 9:10, Holman Christian Standard). I pose the question then as to how God calls us to worship, praise, and ultimately serve Him if we don't fear Him (have reverence) from the start?

          Jesus, when talking about rest for the weary, says, "All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him" (Matthew 11:27, Berean Study Bible). Can we necessarily see Jesus being talked about in the Old Testament? 

          I'm going to give the most radical answer here and say, "No." The reason most of us don't see Jesus, or even believe God wants us to come to Him through Jesus, is that we don't naturally see Him in those Old Testament stories. Yes, they are real as they are accurate. If they weren't these scripture verses wouldn't tell us which king/s were reigning during the times of the prophets. But more than that, even Jesus Himself taught that most people wouldn't see Him.

          Jesus tells His disciples, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given...And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will not perceive, for the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them'" (Matthew 13:11, 14, 15).

          So, how exactly is Jesus revealed, both in the Old Testament and within the confines of the New Testament as well? It's no secret Jesus used the Old Testament in regards to teaching the people within the borders of Israel that He was indeed their Messiah, but He also was fulfilling the very same scriptures too. Listen to the answer He gives John the Baptist through his men: "Go tell John what you saw and heard here. The blind can see, the crippled [lame] can walk, and people with skin diseases [lepers; see 5:12] are healed [cleansed]. The deaf can hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News [Gospel] is preached [announced; proclaimed] to the poor [signs of God's restoration of creation, predicted by the prophet Isaiah; Is. 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1-2]. Those who do not stumble in their faith [are not offended] because of me are blessed" (Luke 7:22-23, Expanded Bible).

          It all boils down to one scripture verse, in my mind. And it's one I've shared in a few other articles: "My people who are called by My name [if they shall] humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14, Holman Christian Standard, words in brackets are mine). If we truly want to hear and receive Jesus as Lord of our lives, and thus accept Him as Messiah -- our healer who forgives us our sins -- then we need to lay down our sins, our pride and allow Him to live from within our hearts and minds. Without that everything in life is vanity.

          Father, You forgave me my sins when they should have still been held against me. I'm not the most humble man ever to live. In fact, there are times I feel I am difficult to live with. How is it You hear my voice? How is it You show me "great and wonderful things" (Jeremiah 33:3)? I don't deserve any of what You have done or given me. I'm unworthy of Your love, of Your favor. Yet, I called out to You in my distress, in my sins, and asked for a Rescuer. You sent Your Son, Jesus the Messiah, to die in my place, to atone for the sins I committed. I don't deserve the life You give me in Your Son. I thank You though for it. I praise Your name for it. It is why I keep doing what I do in Your loving and merciful name. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.