When we were younger, many of us received the call to play T-Ball, and/or baseball. We may have had a flyer sent home from school, or a postcard in the mail, or maybe a friend encouraged us to sign up. This is what we could refer to as a “common call” – everyone is welcome, anyone can play, and they are encouraged to do so.
As the years pass, some have more of an interest in continuing to play, and some have more ability than others. Eventually the “herd” is thinned out and by the time high school rolls around some talent has been lost to bad choices or other interests. Some peaked early and have been passed up in ability, and what remains is what we see on our high school fields.
God has given my son the ability to throw a baseball fast and with accuracy and with unusual movement. Because of that, he received “the call” to continue playing at the college level. What he does with that call is up to him.
With the fall training complete, and now that he is home on break for the winter, I will see firsthand what the effect of this call has had. The coaching staff has given him a workout regimen to follow during break and over the next 6 weeks I will see just how serious he is taking his “call”.
This reminds me of Paul’s transition in Ephesians 4 where he takes the reader from the doctrine of the first three chapters, to their duty; from their position in Christ to practice. Essentially this is where we see whether a person has been impacted by the common call to repent and believe the Gospel in such a way that there is an effect on their walk. Has this “common call” really been an “effectual call”?
We see in Ephesians 2 that we have all either “walked according to the course of this world” or we are still “walking according the course of this world”. For those that have trusted in Christ alone to redeem them from the severity and consequence of sin, Paul is urging them to walk a different way, which essentially serves as evidence of a new birth, a new creation in Christ.
This new walk is a walk that is worthy of your calling.
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
If my son spent the next 6 weeks eating junk food, drinking pop, playing video games and watching TV, never darkening the doorway of the gym, I would know how seriously he is taking his call to play the game of baseball at the highest level possible.
In the same way, when a believer does not exhibit the “walk” Paul urges them to, they can self-examine and know whether their call has been effectual, or simply common.
Ephesians 4:2-3 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
A follower of Christ has been sealed with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit dwells in them, convicting converting, changing them, growing them into the likeness of Christ. Paul gives a very clear contrast in Galatians of the contrast between walking by the Spirit, or walking according to the flesh:
Galatians 5:19-25 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Romans 8:5-9 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.