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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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In biblical usage, the word ‘call’ has a similarly wide range of meanings as it has in everyday usage. This wide range of meanings applies even when the Bible speaks of God’s call to individual people, though certain usages stand out as being of greater theological significance.

God may call people in the sense simply of commanding them or inviting them; yet rebellious people often ignore his call (Isaiah 65:12; Jeremiah 7:13; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 22:3-6; Matthew 22:14). More specifically, he may call people in the sense of choosing them or directing them according to specific purposes he has for them (Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 46:11; Hosea 11:1; Matthew 4:21; Acts 16:10; Hebrews 11:8). In an even higher sense, he calls people by giving them his salvation and making them his own (Romans 1:6; Romans 8:30; 1 Corinthians 1:24).

Christians are those who have responded to the call of God that they heard through the gospel. Their existence as God’s people is the work of the sovereign God who, in his grace and mercy, has called them and saved them (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 1:26; Colossians 3:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Timothy 1:9). This aspect of the call of God is sometimes referred to as election (Romans 9:11; see ELECTION).

God’s calling involves more than merely saving his people from the penalty of sin. He has called them to enjoy freedom (Galatians 5:1; Galatians 5:13), to practise holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:15), to be changed into Christ’s likeness (Romans 8:29-30), to share in Christ’s kingdom (1 Thessalonians 2:12) and to proclaim Christ’s message (1 Peter 2:9). He has also called them to share Christ’s glory; though if they are to experience this fully, they must also share Christ’s suffering (1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 5:10).

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Call'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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