Your word is a lamp
for my feet and a light
for my path.
Psalms 119:105

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Q4. Is today the only day of salvation?
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OPPORTUNITY to become members of the New Creation and to participate in its possibilities, privileges, blessings and glories, was not thrown open to the world of mankind in general, but merely to a "called" class. This is most distinctly set forth in the Scriptures. Israel according to the flesh was called of the Lord to be his peculiar people, separate from the other peoples or nations of the earth: as it is written, "You only have I known [recognized] of all the families of the earth." (`Amos 3:2`) Israel's calling, however, was not the "high calling" or "heavenly calling," and consequently we find no mention of heavenly things in any of the promises pertaining to that people. Their call was to a preparatory condition, which eventually made ready a remnant of that nation to receive and profit by the high calling to the "great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." (`Heb. 2:3`) The terms of the high calling or heavenly calling are not, therefore, to be sought in the Old Testament but in the New; although, as the eyes of our understanding open to discern "the deep things of God," we may see in his dealings and providences with fleshly Israel certain typical lessons profitable to the spiritual seed who have been called with a heavenly calling; because, as the Apostle points out to us, fleshly Israel and its laws and God's dealings with it were shadows or types of the better things belonging to those who are called to membership in the New Creation.

Since in all things Christ was to have the pre-eminence in the divine plan, and it was thus necessary that he should be the first, the chief, the High Priest, who should become the leader of this New Creation of sons of God, the Captain of their salvation and their exemplar, after whose course they might pattern, in whose steps they might walk, we see a most satisfactory reason why the ancient worthies could have no part nor lot in this New Creation. Our Lord's words respecting John the Baptist attest this:

"Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (`Matt. 11:11`) Thus also the Apostle declares, while speaking in terms of highest praise of the faith and noble character of those brethren of the past dispensation--"God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." `Heb. 11:40`

Besides, we are to remember that none can be called while still under condemnation on account of Adam's sin. In order to be called to this "high calling," it is necessary that justification from the Adamic sentence must first be secured, and this could not be granted even to fleshly Israel through the blood of bulls and goats, because these can never take away sin, and were merely types of the better sacrifices which do actually meet the demands of Justice against our race. Hence, it was not possible that the call should begin until after our Lord Jesus had given the price of redemption--"bought us with his own precious blood." Even the Apostles were called and accepted to the New Creation only in a tentative manner until the Redeemer had given the price and had ascended up on high and had presented it on their behalf. Then, and not until then, did the Father, on the day of Pentecost, directly recognize those believers and beget them by his holy Spirit to be "New Creatures." True, our Lord said to the Pharisees during his ministry, "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (`Matt. 9:13`) But we are to recognize a great difference between calling men to repentance and calling them to the high calling of the divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ. No sinners are accepted to it; hence it is that we, being "by nature children of wrath," all require first to be justified freely from all things by the precious blood of Christ.

It is in full accord with this that we read in the introduction to the Epistle to the `Romans (1:7)` that the epistle is addressed "to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints"--called to be holy ones, partakers of the divine nature, etc. The introduction to the Epistle to the Corinthians reads--"Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ." (`1 Cor. 1:2`) The exclusiveness of this call is still further emphasized in a succeeding verse (9), which declares the author of our calling; saying, "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord." This implies an association, oneness; and, hence, the thought is that the call is with a view to finding from amongst men some who shall become one with the Redeemer as New Creatures; joint-heirs with him of the glory, honor, and immortality accorded him as a reward of his faithfulness.

Here we are reminded of the Apostle's words to the effect that we shall be made joint-heirs with Christ only upon certain conditions, namely, "If so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together." (`Rom. 8:17`) In the same chapter to the `Corinthians (verse 24)` the Apostle shows that the call he is discussing is not by any means the same call that was for a time confined to the Jews; and his words indicate, further, that not all are called. He says, "Unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God"--though to the uncalled Jews he was the stumbling block and to the uncalled Greeks foolishness. In his letter to the `Hebrews (9:14,15)` the Apostle points out that the call of this Gospel age could not be promulgated until first our Lord had by his death become "surety" for the New Covenant. His words are, "For this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament [covenant], that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament [Law Covenant], they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." `Heb. 7:22`

Not Many Great, Wise or Learned Called
We might naturally suppose that this special call, if restricted at all, would be restricted to the very finest specimens of the fallen race--the most noble, the most virtuous, the most talented; but the Apostle contradicts this thought, saying, "Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence." (`1 Cor. 1:26-29`) The reason for this condition of things the Apostle explains to be God's intention that no man should be able to boast that he had in any sense or degree merited the great blessings to be conferred. The whole matter is intended to be both to angels and to man an illustration of the power of God to transform characters from base and despised to noble and pure, not by force, but by the transforming power of the truth--working, in the called ones, through the promises and hopes set before them, both to will and to do his good pleasure.

This divine arrangement will result not only in the Father's glory, but also in the humility and everlasting good of those whom he will bless. We find, reiterated throughout the New Testament, various statements of the fact that this call and the salvation under it are not of man, nor by his power, but by the grace of God. Nor is it difficult to see why the call is, as a rule, less attractive to the noble and more so to the ignorant.

Pride is an important element in the fallen nature, and must continually be reckoned with. Those who are less fallen than the majority of their fellows and who are, therefore, more noble by nature than the average of their fellow creatures, are apt to realize this condition and to feel a certain amount of superiority and to pride themselves on it. Such, even if they are seeking the Lord and aspiring to his blessing and favor, would be inclined to expect that they would be received by the Lord upon some different basis from their more fallen, less noble fellows. God's standard, however, is perfection; and he declares that everything not up to that standard is condemned; and every condemned one is pointed to the same Redeemer and to the same sacrifice for sins, whether he has suffered much or comparatively less from the fall. These conditions of acceptance were sure to be more attractive to the mean and more fallen members of the human family than to the more noble ones--the weak, the fallen ones, realizing the more keenly their need of a Savior, because they appreciate much more their own imperfections; while the less fallen, with a measure of self-satisfaction, are not much inclined to bow low before the cross of Christ, to accept justification as a free gift, and to approach upon this basis, and this alone, to the throne of heavenly grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help. They are more inclined to lean to their own understanding, and to have that well-satisfied feeling which will hinder them from coming in by the low gate and narrow way.

God is evidently putting a premium upon humility in connection with all whom he invites to become members of this New Creation. The Apostle points this out, saying, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (`1 Pet. 5:6`) Paul points them to the pattern, Christ Jesus--how he humbled himself and made himself of no reputation, seeking a lower nature and suffering death, even the death of the cross, etc.; on account of which obedience and humility God highly exalted him. Then Peter points the lesson, saying, "God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble." (`1 Pet. 5:5`) Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many great or wise or learned are called, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith. With the premium which God sets upon humility, there is also a premium which he sets upon faith. He would have for New Creatures those who have learned to trust him implicitly, who accept his grace as sufficient for them, and in the strength which he supplies attain --as incidental to their exaltation--the victory to which he calls them.

Character, Nevertheless, a Condition of the Call
Although God does not call the wise or the great or the learned, we are not to understand from this that his people are base or ignorant, in the sense of being evil or corrupt or debased. On the contrary, the Lord sets the highest possible standard before those whom he calls; they are called to holiness, to purity, to faithfulness and to principles of righteousness --to an appreciation of these things in their own hearts and the showing forth of them in their lives to the glory of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. (`2 Pet. 1:3`; `1 Pet. 2:9`) The world may know them according to the flesh only, and according to the flesh they may not be more noble or refined than others --frequently less so--but their acceptance with the Lord is not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, according to their minds, their intentions, their "hearts." Consequently, from the moment they accept the grace of God in Christ and the forgiveness of their sins, and make a consecration of themselves to the Lord, they are counted as freed from those blemishes which were theirs naturally as children of Adam; they are counted as though their flesh were robed in the merits of Christ, hiding all of its defects. It is the new mind, the new will, that is the "New Creature" accepted of God and called, and it alone is being dealt with.

True, the new mind as it develops will show itself to be noble, honorable, upright, and gradually it will come more and more to have power and control over the flesh, so that those who recognize not the New Creatures, even as they did not recognize the Lord, may ultimately come to marvel at their good works and holy living and spirit of a sound mind, though even these may at times be attributed by them to some ignoble motives. And notwithstanding the gradual growth of the new mind more and more into harmony with the mind of the Lord, these may never get full control over the mortal bodies with which they are connected, although it will surely be their object and effort to glorify God in their bodies as well as in their spirits, their minds, which are his. `1 Cor. 6:20`

Let us notice some of these specifications and limitations as respects character in the "New Creation." The Apostle's exhortation to one of these called ones--but applicable to all of them--is, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called." (`1 Tim. 6:12`) These New Creatures are not to expect to gain the victory and the great reward without a battle with the adversary, as well as with sin abounding in all their associations and the weakness of their own flesh, though the latter is covered by the merit of Christ's righteousness under the terms of the Grace Covenant. The Apostle again exhorts this class to "Walk worthy of God who hath called you unto his Kingdom and glory." (`1 Thess. 2:12`) The New Creature is not only to recognize his calling and its ultimate reward in the Kingdom and glory, but he is to remember that in the present life he has become a representative of God and of his righteousness, and he is to seek to walk in accord therewith. Thus we read, "As he that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, 'Be ye holy; for I am holy.'" (`1 Pet. 1:15,16`) Again, in the same epistle (`2:9`) we read, "Ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

Spiritual Israelites of the New Creation were not put under to specific laws, as were the fleshly Israelites; but were put under "the law of liberty," that their love for the Lord might demonstrate itself, not only in respect to voluntarily avoiding the things recognized as disapproved of the Lord, but also in respect to voluntarily sacrificing human rights and interests in the service of truth and righteousness, for the Lord and for the brethren. It is in accord with this that the Apostle declares "God hath not called us unto uncleanness but unto holiness." (`1 Thess. 4:7`) He declares again, "Ye have been called unto liberty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh" (`Gal. 5:13`), an occasion to do evil: use your liberty rather in sacrificing present rights for the sake of the truth and its service--that thus you may be sacrificing priests of the royal priesthood who, by and by, shall reign in God's Kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ to dispense divine blessings to the world.

Many are the scriptures that point out that the call to be "New Creatures" is a call to glory, honor and immortality (`Phil. 3:14`; `2 Pet. 1:3`, etc.), but everywhere the Lord indicates that the path to this glory is a narrow one of trial, testing, sacrifice; so that only those who are begotten of his spirit, yea, filled with it, will be able to come off conquerors in the end and attain to the glorious things whereunto they are called, the way to which has been made possible to the called ones through him who has promised, "My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in your weakness."

Nor are we to think of different calls, but are to remember the declaration of the Apostle (`Eph. 4:4`), "Ye are called in one hope of your calling." It is a mistake, therefore, for any to think that they have any choice in this matter. Indeed, so far as the world is concerned, in the next age there will be no call: God will not, during that age, be seeking to select a special class separate and distinct from others and to a special position. Instead of calling the world during the Millennial age, the Lord will command them--command obedience to the laws and principles of righteousness; and every creature will be required (not requested) to render obedience to that Millennial government, otherwise he will receive stripes for his disobedience, and ultimately will be destroyed from amongst the people, as is written, "He that will not hear [obey] that prophet shall be cut off from amongst the people"--he shall die the Second Death, from which there will be no hope of recovery.

Neither is there a second call during this Gospel age, though, as we have previously seen, there is a second class of saved ones selected during this age--the Great Company (`Rev. 7:9-14`) "whose number no man knoweth, out of every nation and kindred and tongue," who shall serve God in his temple and before the throne in contradistinction to the Bride, who will be in the throne and members, or living stones, of the temple. But these of this second company have no separate and distinct call. They might as easily, and with much more satisfaction, have attained to the glories of the divine nature had they rendered prompt and hearty obedience. They do come off victors in the end, as is shown by the fact that to them are granted the palm branches; but their lack of zeal hindered them from being accepted as of the overcoming class, thus preventing their eternal joint-heirship and glory as participants in the New Creation, as well as depriving them of much of the joy and peace and satisfaction which belongs to the overcomers and is enjoyed by them even in this present life. The place to which they will attain, as we have previously seen, will apparently be one similar in many respects to the estate or plane of the angels.

Another thought in connection with the call is that its time is limited, as the Apostle declares, "Now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation." "Today if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts." (`2 Cor. 6:2`; `Heb. 3:15`) This acceptable day, or acceptable year or acceptable period or epoch, began with our Lord Jesus and his consecration. He was called. He took not the honor upon himself, and it has continued ever since--"No man taketh this honor unto himself." (`Heb. 5:4`) Bold indeed would be the man who would assume the right to a change of nature from human to divine, and from being a member of the family of Adam and joint-heir in his lost and forfeited estate, to being a joint-heir with Christ in all the riches and glory and honor of which he, in response to his call, became the rightful heir in perpetuity.

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