1 Cor. 1:9 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Called. We tend to think of one’s calling as some sense of their individual vocation. The Apostle Paul uses it that way in Rom. 1:1 when he says he was “called to be an apostle.” But then, elaborates on what he means by that in more general terms in his follow up statement: “set apart for the gospel of God.” While he was set and sent as an apostle, and you and I are not – whatever else such calling may imply, it means at least and foremost this: That the gospel of God was the priority in His life. And in that sense, each one who is in Christ has the weight of that calling as well. God has set us apart to hear and believe His gospel, and to build our lives around it. Believing it, living it and proclaiming it. All of God’s people are called, and set apart for the Gospel of God, irrespective of the theater in which that takes place.
It is interesting to note that nowhere in the New Testament is anyone ever said to be “called” to any more specific vocation. Yes, Scripture says that God has gifted His Church with evangelists, pastor/teachers, etc. But we do not read that anyone is to find out if they are “called” to those roles. Gifted for them? Sure. Qualified for them? You bet – following the Biblical mandates. Skilled in them? Each should seek to be if they are laboring in them. But, and I am well aware this goes against the grain of popular thought – but called to such an office as Paul was to be an apostle? I’m hard pressed to find that Scripturally. Logically, maybe. But Scripturally – not so much.
The above is not to utterly dismiss the reality the reality that for some there is a sense that they are serving in a capacity which resonates with their abilities and desires. Happily, this can often be so. But like Paul, the callings we need to fulfill, will be those do not require a specific context. He would be set apart for the Gospel (and his apostleship) whether writing letters, evangelizing his captors in jail, plating Churches, etc. He did not need a formalized office. Those gifted by God to teach His truth, will do it regardless of whether or not they hold that office in a local assembly. And there will always be those who shepherd the souls of God’s people whether they are employed in a recognized “Pastoral” role or not. Evangelists will evangelize. They will do so if they are ditch diggers, doctors or bus drivers.
The “calling” passages of the Bible are all far more general. They are universal callings to all who are in Christ by faith. So as we’ve already seen, no one is called to belong to Christ, to be a saint or serve His purpose any more – or any less – than every other Christian. So it is creating a separate category of saints as some traditions or denominations do – is essentially mythical. It has no basis in Scripture. We need to consider that mode of thinking a bit more carefully.
But here, let me mention one more calling every true believer has. And to be truthful it is staggering. 1 Cor. 1:9 has it: “called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Rather than me wasting ink, let Calvin give you something to think on in terms of the wonder of being called into this fellowship. Oh may we grasp it, and live in it fully:
“For this is the design of the gospel, that Christ may become ours, and that we may be ingrafted into his body. Now when the Father gives him to us in possession, he also communicates himself to us in him; and hence arises a participation in every benefit. Paul’s argument, then, is this—“Since you have, by means of the gospel which you have received by faith, been called into the fellowship of Christ, you have no reason to dread the danger of death, having been made partakers of him (Heb. 3:14) who rose a conqueror over death.” In fine, when the Christian looks to himself he finds only occasion for trembling, or rather for despair; but having been called into the fellowship of Christ, he ought, in so far as assurance of salvation is concerned, to think of himself no otherwise than as a member of Christ, so as to reckon all Christ’s benefits his own. Thus he will obtain an unwavering hope of final perseverance, (as it is called,) if he reckons himself a member of him who is beyond all hazard of falling away.”
Calvin, John, and John Pringle. Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Logos Bible Software, 2010, pp. 60–61.