He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
When we see a rainbow, do we remember that the promise was given after the judgement and annihilation of the world? How sad it is that there seems to be a growing tendency within the church to view the promises of God as being one-sided. It’s an offshoot, I believe, of the proliferation of misguided teaching such as the ‘unconditional love of God’ and the prosperity gospel, and it’s also the tragic manifestation within the body of Christ of new age deception which is rapidly infiltrating and seducing many who profess Christianity. The focus is rapidly becoming one of ‘me, myself, I’ – God’s nature, power, and promises are seen more and more from the perspective of ‘what’s in it for me?’ rather than the real truth that He is all-powerful and unutterably holy.
Today’s verse is a wonderful encouragement, a sure and certain truth that we, as believers, can take hold of and stand on in absolute faith. There are two parts. First, God is absolutely faithful. Second, because He is faithful, He will do whatever is required. These are wonderful ‘generic’ certainties that can – and so often are – applied to every possible need or situation. But the pivot of this verse is the phrase ‘who calls you.’ This is the practical context to the appropriation of the promise. It is the ‘coat hanger’ on which the rest of the verse is hung.
We can never separate God’s promises and God’s call.
The two books of Thessalonians have a lot to do with end times in general and our role, responsibilities, and challenges as believers in particular. Their whole overall focus is living the Christian life effectively and preparing and watching for the last days. From that perspective, then, our verse has critical significance. It has specific relevance to the times in which we live, and we ought to sit back and pay attention. The message may be ‘general’ in that it applies to Christians in any times or situations, but it is also very much for the ‘here and now.’
We need to take hold of the full relevance of ‘He who calls you.’ It defines the faithfulness of God in fulfilling what He has called us to and into. We cannot afford the comfortable faith that interprets this verse in an entirely open-ended way – ‘God is faithful so He will keep His promises.’ Yes, this is essentially true, but ‘who calls you’ highlights the critical truth that God’s promises are never one-sided. They always, without a single contradiction, entail a mutual interaction between the one who promises and the one who receives. God’s promises and God’s call are always mutually connected.
There is a tendency to regard God’s covenants and His promises as two different things. This is a study all on its own. But, at a very basic level, the premise behind them both – faithfulness – is the same. But, just as with a covenant, a promise involves two parties. God and His people are always mutually involved in a promise. That is the significance of ‘who calls you.’ It’s absolutely critical, if we want the fulfilment of the promise, that we understand the nature and relevance of this.
The ‘call’ of God is the basis of both salvation and faith, as well as their outworking in ministry or works. In John 6:44 we read: No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him… This is God’s call. We are first called to Christ – to repentance, to salvation, and to a life of faith. We are called to be a testimony to Jesus. We are called to make disciples and preach the gospel. We are called to do His works and give Him glory. We are called to praise and worship Him, to be His temple, a living sacrifice, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation, set apart for Him.
There is not one single part of our Christian life that can exist without God first calling us to it or into it. God’s call is the basic, fundamental, action that enables everything else. And here’s the critical truth – the call is irrelevant unless we respond. This is the ‘mutual interaction’ that engages the call and the related promise. We must respond in order for the call to be effective. Ignoring His call doesn’t alter it or God’s faithfulness. It simply means that we received the invitation but didn’t respond. The ‘event’ becomes meaningless in our lives. It still happens – our ignoring the invitation doesn’t stop the event happening – but it has no impact in our lives because we are not a part of it.
That’s the crux of it. For God’s faithfulness to be active and for Him to ‘do it’ requires that we are a part of it. It requires that we respond with obedience. This means that we obey the call in all aspects of our lives. It means that we enter into relationship with Him – a relationship that has Him as God and us as those who love and serve Him. Without an obedient heart, the promises of God have no relevance. We cannot claim His promises or expect Him to be faithful and ‘do it’ if we are not obedient to the call. God’s promises and God’s call work together to achieve God’s will and purpose.
Every single promise of God relates to a call of some kind, a call to which we are expected to respond in obedience. But we have another tendency, one which is as deceptive, and that is that we so easily disregard those promises of God which we don’t particularly like. These involve things like judgement or repercussions, or consequences of sin and disobedience. It’s far more comfortable to lose sight of the fact that God’s faithfulness and His promises are manifestations of His nature – a nature which is perfect, complete balance in all things. We cannot exclude judgement and claim only mercy or grace. With God, it’s a package deal. He give all, and that includes the things that don’t fit into a doctrine of comfortable Christianity.
In these end time, this interaction of call and obedience is becoming more critical every day. We cannot afford to lose sight of the fact that our circumstances are manifestations of sweeping supernatural and spiritual events that involve the shaking of the heavens and the earth. Our absolute rock and foundation in the midst of ever-increasing challenges and possibly coming persecutions is the faithfulness of God. We need the unshakeable truth that He ‘will do it,’ because it’s an equal truth that we will not be able to do it on our own. But if we expect Him to be faithful to His call and all that it involves, He expects the same from us. The act of obedience to the call is the manifestation of our faith and faithfulness.
We should take time to establish with absolute certainty those things to which God has called us. We should look at each one and accept everything it involves. Jesus told us to ‘count the cost,’ and this has never been more relevant than here and now. The call of God is not simply to the ‘good things’ or the ‘abundant life.’ Those may come, and that’s wonderful, a righteous cause for joy and thanksgiving. His call is and always will be to ‘a living sacrifice.’ God’s promises and God’s call work together, but the call comes first. It is the catalyst, obedience is the reaction, and His promises are the result.
It will surely take us a lifetime and beyond to achieve ‘perfect obedience.’ That is simply not a human capability, and the devil does his best to us this to discourage us and defeat us. But God looks at the obedient heart – a humble heart, a heart honest about our condition and our weaknesses, a heart that responds and surrenders and seeks to worship and glorify Him in all things. To receive His promises, we need to place ourselves in them. We need to participate through obedience. If our hearts hear and obey the call, He who is faithful will do it.
Thank You, Lord, for Your immeasurable grace in showing us that You call us in every single aspect of our lives. Help us to hear and to respond in love and obedience. Teach our hearts to surrender, to seek You and Your glory rather than simply Your promises. Where we have taken things for granted, we ask Your forgiveness and grace to live according to Your call.