Let Us Make Our Calling Sure
by Gary Amirault
The Greek word which many English Bible translations MIStranslate "church" is the Greek word "ekklesia." The English word "church" etymologically goes back to the Greek "Kirke," NOT "ekklesia, but that's another story. (If you want to know the real meaning of the word "Church," write for the 90 minute audio tape "The Origin of the Word Church.")
Just as there is NOTHING holy about the English word "church," neither is there anything holy about the Greek word "ekklesia" in the New Testament which describes an assembly. During the Biblical period, they did not have the kind of advertising media we have today. When someone wanted to promote an event, one would hire a heralder, chronicler, a pitch man, so to speak, to go through the streets announcing an event's place and time. Those who gathered to that event were called the "ekklesia" to that "outcaller." Ekklesia was NOT some religious term; it was simple a term to describe an assembly gathered to hear a particular message. The riotous mob in Acts 19:32, 41 was called an "ekklesia."
So then, to be a member of a "church," to "go to church," to have denomination membership in a "church" means absolutely nothing as far as God is concerned. The important thing is to whom or what have we been called. If it is not the Holy Spirit who has drawn us to the Resurrection Life of Jesus Christ, then it will be a most UN-holy gathering. If it is to a beautiful church building, a set of traditions, a creed, a handsome pastor, a good choir, a congregation large enough to hide in, a certain status in the community, etc.--if that is what we are called to, then we have certainly NOT been called to God's Ekklesia.
The word "ekklesia" comes from "ek"--out of, and "klesis"--a calling. It is an out-calling, a call to separate oneself from this world unto Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:18 speaks of the hope the calling; 2 Thess. 2:11 of being worthy of God's call; 2 Tim. 1:9 of a holy calling; Heb. 3:1 of a heavenly call; and 2 Pet. 1:10 speaks of confirming one's call and election. For too many Christians, I'm afraid, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have become nothing more than a creed over which to divide. There is much more talk about the Holy Spirit than His actual presence in our gatherings.
It is quite possible, considering the thousands of denominations, sects or divisions of Christendom "calling" people to themselves, that an individual may find themselves in an ekklesia, a church, an assembly, or whatever word one wants to use to describe a gathering of people, which was NOT assembled or called together by the Holy Spirit, but some other spirit. Peter warns us to make our calling and election sure. James warned of "empty clouds" which give an appearance, but lack substance.
The Ekklesia of God is not a concept, a set of articles of faith, a history of great tradition, etc.--the Ekklesia of God is a many-membered organism filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts chapter 2 is an example of what happens to a people gathered together to be an expression of the Holy Spirit. The people were gathered together in one accord waiting upon the Holy Spirit to lead them. The Holy Spirit accepted the invitation, filled them with His ways, word, will, and ways and then sent them out into the world. He calls us out of this world, commands us to get the world out of ourselves, fills us with the possessions of Jesus and then sends us back into the world. This is a mystery that seems few of us seem to be able to grasp--to be in the world but not of it. It's really impossible to maintain the proper balance in this regard without the aid of the Holy Spirit.
The real key to having an abundant Christian life is how much we are being led by the Holy Spirit. Are the pressures of this world bouncing us around like ping pong balls? Are we simply building a little kingdom for a charismatic man or woman or perpetuating a denomination or movement which is nothing but a corpse from which God's Holy Spirit has long since been removed? Are we following the lusts of our own appetites? Are we allowing ourselves to be molded by the marketing of Madison Avenue and the heathenism of Hollywood? Have we heeded the call to become great "fans" of sports teams? These and many more are also "ekklesias"--they, too, are voices calling human beings together to produce some kind of power. They compete with the calling of the Holy Spirit. The test of our calling is whether it has driven us out of our "Upper Room" into the world to heal it. As Oswald Chambers puts it...in order to recognize "God's calling" and the manifestation of that calling in His "called-out ones," there must be a "spontaneity of love."
"'Love suffereth long, and is kind..." 1 Cor. 13:4-8 Love is not premeditated, it is spontaneous, i.e. it burst up in extraordinary ways. There is nothing of mathematical certainty in Paul's category of love. We cannot say--"Now I am going to think no evil; I am going to believe all things." The characteristic of love is spontaneity. We do not set the statements of Jesus in front of us as a standard; but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live according to His standard without knowing it, and on looking back we are amazed at the disinterestedness of a particular emotion, which is the evidence that the spontaneity of real love was there. In everything to do with the life of God in us, its nature is only discerned when it is past.
The springs of love are in God, not in us. It is absurd to look for the love of God in our hearts naturally, it is only there when it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
If we try to prove to God how much we love Him, it is a sure sign that we do not love Him. The evidence of our love for Him is the absolute spontaneity of our love, it comes naturally. In looking back we cannot tell why we did certain things, we did them according to the spontaneous nature of His love in us. The life of God manifests itself in this spontaneous way because the springs of love are in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 5:5)" Oswald Chambers from "My Utmost for His Highest."
So then, we are called to well-springs of His love and that expression will be quite spontaneous. And as the flow from the Upper Room has revealed for us, this flow should have power with it that overcomes the forces of this world.
Oh saints, let us make our election and calling sure!! Let us honestly examine what it is we are yielding our souls to. Let us allow God to burn away all hindrances which would prevent us from being blown to wherever the Holy Spirit would send us. Let us turn to ashes those traditions, those ways, those lusts that would draw us away from being led by the Holy Spirit into a life full of His love for all mankind. It is only when we are full of His lovely life that we experience the truly abundant life. "I have come that you might have life and more abundantly." John 10:10 "As many as are led by the Spirit, these are the sons of God." (Rom. 8:14)
"For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Rom. 8:19-21)
All of creation is waiting for us to be blown out of our comfort zones. Church walls, complacency, self-indulgence, traditions of men, etc. all are comfort zones which inhibit the spontaneous flow of God's love through our lives. Let the fire of God come down on that pile of death--let Him turn it all into ashes--and then let the wind of His Spirit blow you to wherever He pleases. It is only there that we truly experience the fullness of life Jesus spoke of. Come Holy Spirit, set us on fire, blow upon us and send us out into the world being filled with your spontaneous love. Gary Amirault
"If I have the gift of prophesy and understand all mysteries...and have not love it profits me nothing....We speak a message of wisdom among the mature." (1 Cor. 13:2-3; 2:6)
Nobody can be indwelt by the Spirit of God and keep that Spirit to himself. Where the Spirit is, He flows forth. And where there is no flowing forth, he is not there. -- William Temple, in his Readings in John's Gospel, quoted by John R. W. Stott, "Keeping the Right Company," Preaching Today, Tape No. 46.
Let us make our calling...sure.