Summary: It is no over-statement to say that there are numerous and varied calls that come to Christians over the course of a lifetime. But there are four distinct calls that are common to all born-again believers.
WE HAVE BEEN CALLED
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” Ephesians 4:1 (NASB)
It is no over-statement to say that there are numerous and varied calls that come to Christians over the course of a lifetime. But there are four distinct calls that are common to all born-again believers.
THE CHRISTIAN IS CALLED TO CARRY HIS OWN CROSS
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 (NKJV)
We often hear Christians define their “cross” as some burden they bear. Some depict their “cross” as ill health, family problems, financial difficulty, etc. None of these are properly called our “crosses”. They may indeed be burdens we are called to bear and for such we need to claim the promise of our Lord:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)
The cross symbolized a humiliating death and our Lord was asking His disciples to be willing, if need be, to die for Him.
Notice how Paul described the symbolic effect of carrying his cross.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)
“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:11 (NKJV)
THE CHRISTIAN IS CALLED TO WAGE WAR
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12 (NKJV)
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called…” 1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)
THE CHRISTIAN IS CALLED TO STAND WATCH
Regarding the responsibility of warning sinners of God’s judgment upon sin:
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, ’You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” Ezekiel 3:17-19 (NKJV)
Regarding the temptation to compromise the truth of God’s word:
“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NKJV)
Do not adopt the “Good Lord, good devil” theology of the world. Don’t buy into the idea that “it doesn’t make any difference what you believe”. It does make a difference…the difference between whether a person spends eternity in heaven or hell.
Regarding the expectation of our Lord’s return:
"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:42 (NKJV)
Throughout the ages, devout Christians have looked and longed for His return. But no generation in history has seen the fulfillment of the prophecies relating to His second coming as has this present generation. Consider the words of our Lord:
"And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near." Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV)
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV)