While Bible studying with my family recently, my daughter asked how do you know if God is calling you? I responded to her by saying, “That’s a very good question that requires more time than we have right now, but I will write a study we will go over next Sabbath day.” This study will explore this question in detail.
It is important to provide a bit of context before answering the question. Many professing Christians teach that anyone who believes on Jesus can come into the Lord’s rest. Despite this teaching, there are several verses that show belief on Jesus typically is superficial at best. Notice what Jesus says to the Jews that believed on Him in John 8:31. Jesus Christ in His own words shows us that mere belief does not make us followers of Him. (This will become more significant later.)
Does Jesus teach that you only have to believe on Him? No, but many promote this belief by quoting John 3:16. It is important to try to understand verses in their context and in relation to other verses in other parts of the Bible. We cannot ignorantly claim to understand anything in the Bible without a full investigation of the matter like the Bereans (Acts. 17:11).
What Does It Mean to Believe on Jesus?
Even though belief on Jesus would appear self-explanatory, this is not the case. The very words of Jesus contradict this doctrine. “Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.” (John 12:44) In this verse, Jesus is addressing chief rulers who believed on Him (read verses 42-43). He declares that believing on Him is really believing on the Father. How many ministers, pastors, and theologians actually teach this truth? Remember, it is written that Christ declared the Father (John 1:18). The meaning of the Greek word declared means to consider aloud i.e. rehearse, unfold. Looking at the definitions of words help to bring deeper understanding of what was meant by the writers. John, at the beginning of his account of the gospel, tells us Jesus revealed, displayed, related the facts or particulars of the Father. (You can look these words up for yourself using www.blueletterbible.org and www.dictionary.com.)
Contrary to what is commonly taught, Jesus Christ revealed God the Father and the Father’s intentions for mankind to the His disciples. This is confirmed by Matt. 11:27. Jesus Christ was constantly referring people to the Father. He claimed to speak only what the Father told Him to speak and not His own words. Read the following:
“And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” (John 12:47-50)
Jesus Christ tells us plainly that what He speaks is what the Father commanded Him to speak. Belief on Jesus Christ is not just merely belief on Him. It is believing the message that the Father told Him to preach. It is believing the Father. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ said. Also read John 8:26-28 and John 14:23-24 where Jesus makes similar proclamations. The work that Jesus has done and is doing is the will of the Father (John 6:38-39). To believe Jesus is to believe the Father because Jesus spoke what the Father told Him to speak. Unfortunately, far too many only believe a portion of the message Jesus preached from the Father. The full gospel is rejected as heresy the same way the Jews of Jesus’ era rejected the message that came from the Father. (More on this in another Bible study)
Only If the Father Calls
Now that it is plain that belief on Jesus is actually believing the Father and the words He told Christ to speak, we must look further into the Father’s role and authority. The Bible is very clear that the Father is the One who calls people to the Son. Do not believe what I write; believe your Bible.
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)
The Father gives people to Jesus. Jesus does not call people on His own. Remember, His intent is to do the will of the Father. We can see this when the 12 lead disciples are chosen. Jesus prays all night to the Father. It is obvious He was seeking the Father’s will to determine which of His disciples must be chosen for apostleship (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus did not choose the twelve of His own free will.
“I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” (John 17:6)
This is Jesus’s prayer before the crucifixion. Notice, He says that the disciples belonged to the Father and the Father gave them to Him. It is the Father that chooses whom He will give to Christ. Also read John 10:24-29. These verses declare that the sheep of Jesus’s flock are given to Him by the Father.
John chapter 6 addresses this issue specifically in several verses. This chapter contains some very controversial verses about who is and who is not a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even the disciples said, ”This is an hard saying,” to Jesus after He spoke. They were offended by what He told them. Let’s read it.
Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. 52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. 59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. 60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”(John 6:43-66)
There are so many deep and clear doctrines in this chapter that many have and will find offensive. Jesus tells the crowd that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him. According to this, you don’t choose Christ whenever you want to. It is the prerogative of God the Father to draw in whomever He chooses, when He chooses. The Father decides who to reveal the mystery of the kingdom to. This is why Jesus spoke in parables in public and explained them to His disciples in private (Mark 4:10-12). This is not commonly believed today, but this is what the Lord Jesus Christ taught. There is an order and timeline to God’s plan that many ignore (I Cor. 15: 22-24).
The gospel of the kingdom was to be preached as a witness to all nations (Matt. 24:14). This does not mean the world will be converted by that witness. If it did, then Jesus wouldn’t have said those who don’t believe will be damned (Mark 16:15-16; damned means to judge against in the Greek). Also read Matt. 22:14 and Matt. 7:13-14. The chosen are said to be few, but prophecy in the Old Testament tells us many will come into the kingdom after Jesus returns and rules. (More on this in another Bible study.)
“But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” (John 6:64-66)
This is very hard preaching. Jesus did not sugarcoat His words to the crowd and His own disciples. Verse 66 shows us that even His own disciples were offended by this truth and walked away from Him. Jesus declared that some of His disciples didn’t even really believe what He was teaching which means they didn’t believe the Father. They didn’t believe because it was not given unto by the Father. This teaching means you cannot come to Jesus unless God the Father draws you near (John 6:44). Despite the teaching of many pastors and religious leaders, the word of God says that access to the Father is not of your own making whenever you choose to give your heart to Jesus. God the Father draws whom He chooses, when He chooses. This teaching offended Jesus’ nonbelieving disciples and they walked away. Why? Because it was not given unto them by the Father to believe at that time.
It is not God’s objective to convert the entire world at this time as we have read. At this time, God is calling individuals for a special purpose. We cannot of ourselves decide when God will use us just by “giving our hearts” to Jesus Christ. That is not biblical. God the Father drafts people to His service. In Part 2 of this Bible study, we will explore examples of God’s calling. It is my hope that from this study you will be able to discern if God the Father is calling you to His service.