The apostle Paul in Romans 8:30 says…”whom (God) called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified”.  Yet in Matthew 20:16, Jesus states that “many are called but few are chosen”.  Wait a minute!  Something’s not right.  Being “called” according to Paul leads to glorification (heaven) yet Jesus is indicating a higher place for “the chosen”.  The difference in whether we remain among the “many called” only or move on to be included among “the chosen” lies in our willingness to “by the mercies of God, present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God…and not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind” as written in Romans 12:1.

Some of the blame falls on the doorstep of the modern day establishment evangelical church with its misguided emphasis on saving the lost,and meeting the perceived needs of the people.  No doubt there are lots of lost and needy people, and yes, we as believers participate by presenting the gospel which is “the power of God until salvation”  Romans 1:16.  However, the essence of the great commission is really to become disciples of Jesus ourselves first and then to disciple others – teaching them, as Jesus said “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” spoken shortly before He ascended into heaven in the last words of Matthew’s gospel.

Salvation is God’s part.  Choosing discipleship is ours and requires a courageous, determined, sacrificial and consistent act of our free will.  God will not coerce us.  “Whom shall I send, who will go for me?”, He asks in Isaiah.  Yet God has already provided and will continue to provide all that we will ever need to accomplish His work in us, continually molding us into the image of His son.  Our part is the willingness to do so – to hold loosely the temporal things of this world which we cannot keep in exchange for the eternal things we cannot lose.  Jesus bluntly lays it out, “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me – for whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” Matt. 16:24-25.  From among the many “called”, these will be reckoned as “the few” who “are chosen”.

The context of the called and chosen distinction is actually in the parable about the landowner hiring workers from the early morning and throughout the day at the same agreed upon fixed rate.  This resulted in hard feelings on the part of those hired first.  A spiritual lesson here is that the landowner represents God and the hirelings are all those called – the church.  All the laborers (the believers) of the landowner (God) are compensated equally (saved regardless of their conditions by the grace of God).  But many, even in salvation, continue in the worldly spirit of self centeredness.  Although  bought with a price and granted eternal life, many are “shortsighted and cannot see afar off, and have forgotten they were purged from their old sins” as Peter says in an analogous statement from 2 Peter 1.

It is not a coincidence that Peter continues on in his epistle with a detailed discussion about his concerns for the church at the end of the church age.  He cautions against becoming “entangled in the world” in “the last days” and “scoffing” at the reality of the soon coming return of Christ.  Yes, many are predestined, called, justified and will one day be glorified.  Yet only a few will be the “chosen”, the “remnant” throughout the ages, and the “overcomers” of the Book of the Revelation.  These who, in addition to “the blood of the Lamb” overcome “by the word of their testimony (living lives consistent with the word of God) and “loved not their lives unto death” (not fearing loss or retribution in exposing the worldly system for the lie that it is. See Proverbs 29:25 and Isaiah 51:7).

Peter also makes an interesting statement about being “established in the present truth” 2 Pet. 1:12.  While all of God’s word is true, this clearly references a more current, timely truth, which by God’s spirit, needs to be sought after.  The context from the previous verses indicated that our faith, in willful spirit controlled growth, needs to culminate in love.  Volumes will forever be written about what it means to love and what love is.  Suffice to say that God’s idea of love is expressed in the cross of Jesus Christ.  It is love with the good of others in view, not expecting anything in return – selfless love.  This love sometimes means exhortation, challenging others to think and look at things outside the box – a love not always well received.

Jesus refers to the sense of time and urgency in discerning “the present truth” in the parable of the unfaithful servant (Luke 12:56, 40).  “You hypocrites, you discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time.  Be therefore ready, for the son of man cometh at an hour when you think not.”

Yet God desires “that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance” 2 Pet 3:9.  Again He is speaking to the church here.  Hence, the reason for the scoffers perceived “slackness” on God’s part regarding the return of Jesus to earth? It is the patient grace of God allowing time to avoid perishing!   Notice though the very next verse states that the coming “day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” and that we are to be “looking for the hastening unto the coming day of the Lord”.  The alternative for some, as Peter concludes his second epistle is that “the latter end is worse with them than the beginning”.

The intention is for this worse end to be avoided by as many as are open to receive.  To this end, let us get off the dead end merry-go-round of worldliness and “busy work”, personal and church growth programs, etc.  2 Tim 3:4 chastises the church of the last days as having “a form of Godliness but denying His power”.  Let’s let God be God.  We need to heed His warning to His people prior to the impending destruction about to befall them in 2 Chron 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and repent and seek my face, then I will hear from heaven and I will heal their land”.  This, they did not do and suffered the consequences.  May it not become so for you and I.

The question now becomes how do we avoid such an end? Or looking at the flip side of the same coin, how can we line up with the mind and purpose of God to be of value in His kingdom now?  2 Pet 3:11 asks “seeing then that all these things (wickedness, deception, apostasy, etc.) shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and Godliness”?  Let’s respond with a willful and active “yes” to all those “if’s” in God’s word,  challenging us to discipleship – to be among the chosen, an overcomer in the trials and judgments that await even the church – in these precious end times of opportunity.

This discussion may shed light on Daniel 12:2 which states “many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contempt.  They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever”.  Most explain this as the distinction between the resurrection of the saved versus the lost.  But perhaps the word contempt refers to regret and to loss of reward – and is the difference between “the called” and “the chosen”.  In any case, spiritual maturity is the goal and is more than being saved.  It includes “being wise as serpents and harmless as doves” according to Matt 10:16, concerning the wickedness and deception of men.

The chosen, the remnant, the overcomers who have forsaken the deception of the world system and the deceived church are “the wise” who, against the tide, speak “the truth in love” and “turn many to righteousness”.  Yet it is totally understandable even here and now in America, that the chosen face blank stares, isolation, if not outright persecution, even within the church.  Any who challenge an established system, even the religious system, cannot expect to be well received.  Look at the prophets of old.  Look at Jesus.  Is it not becoming clear?

Scripture tells us that the things that get us in trouble include the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.  Lusts and pride at times are behind the outwardly praiseworthy desire to serve – even, perhaps especially, in the church among God’s people, if that desire comes from the need (lust) for meaning and purpose in life apart from understanding God’s heart and His call on our lives.  The late Oswald Chambers said that the need is not the call.  Jesus said it best as He chastened some followers by saying “the poor you will always have with you” and indicating that He himself is to be our primary focus, implying that all that needs to be accomplished will flow from this relationship to himself.  It’s not about us and our self fulfillment.

Many in the church have it wrong with respect to church service and soul saving.  Too many in leadership are all too willing to consciously or unconsciously exploit the body of Christ in attaining this self satisfying service – and thus expand their own need for purpose, control, power or the vanity of helping the cause of Christ.  2 Pet 1:8 makes it very clear how we can have the hope of being “neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” if we “add to our faith” and do these things, culminating in love – none of which include service.  All that is good is birthed from true love motivated from a pure heart and is the goal of the Christian faith.  Our spiritual maturity and the ability to avoid being deceived, is up to us with all the power of the creative and sustaining God of the universe at our disposal.

Let’s not be counted among those in 2 Pet 1:5 “that lacketh these things, are blind and cannot see afar off”.  His charge is “rather, brethren, give diligence to make your call and election sure; for if you do these things, ye shall never fail” – and suffer the loss of not being counted among the chosen.

Yet Peter warns that in following the last days apostate church leadership led by “they that are unlearned and unstable”, “many (believers) shall follow their pernicious ways and be made merchandise of.”

Consider today’s church, is it God centered? Or man centered?  The answer is clear.  We have become a “seeker friendly” church with gimmicks and programs – even billboard advertisements in our well intentioned yet deceived attempt to grow and save the lost.  Meanwhile, existing church members are being swept away under the guise of being “purpose driven” to save the world, stop world hunger and a myriad of other good causes.

International Christian mega church pastor Rick Warren, who claims to have trained over 500,000 pastors, is working with all world  religions, political systems and big business in the attempt to make a better world.  Scripturally, it is a vain attempt at best.  More likely, it is the spirit of Anti-Christ and one more step in the culmination of the end times consolidation of power, with the evil one himself, the “dragon” of revelation, behind it all.  The word of God details how it all plays out.  Read and study to find out if you don’t know.  It will make a major difference in how we direct our energy if we understand what is coming and is a topic too little addressed in the church today – especially in light of all the “last days” prophecies being fulfilled in our midst.

Praise God if you are truly saved.  But He has more in store for those who are “the chosen” today.  Let us open our eyes and see what the spirit of the Lord is saying in “the present truth” of the times in which we live.  Let us not be counted among the scoffers.  Time is short and God intends us to live like it is.  2 Peter ends by saying that “the long suffering of our Lord IS salvation.  Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness”.

God is expecting more from His people – that is why He has not yet returned…but He will…perhaps very soon.

But what matters most is not the time and date, but that we discern the times in which we live in light of biblical prophecy and acknowledge our partaking in this evil world system, prayerfully taking the necessary steps to withdraw from it – meanwhile living with expectation in such away that we do not fall short of the glory of God.