That You May Know (5)
…that you may know what is the hope of His calling… Ephesians 1.18
…God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2.12
The apostle Paul reminded the believers in Corinth – and through them, us – that we are not our own (1 Cor. 6.19, 20). God has purchased us out of sin and spiritual blindness, out of the darkness of unbelief, out of confusion, uncertainty, and hopelessness, into the glorious Kingdom of His Son for eternal life with Him (Col. 1.13; Jn. 17.3). By the grace of God, we have been reborn into a Kingdom not of this world. We have the Spirit of the living God dwelling within us, and we are the temple of the Lord.
Having bought, begotten, saved, and indwelled us, God has called us to His Kingdom and glory. And God’s calling brims with mysteries so compelling, numerous, vast, wondrous, and satisfying, that we could never completely fathom or realize them in this life.
But while we cannot in this time know the fullness of His calling, we can know the hope of it; that is, we can experience the hope of God’s calling in our daily lives. This is what Paul prayed for, that we might “know what is the hope of His calling”. When the Spirit of God opens the eyes of our heart, so that wisdom and revelation from God bathe, refresh, and renew our soul, we will begin to know – to experience in our daily lives – the hope of His calling with greater fullness. The more we know hope, the more those who have no hope can see our hope; and many will be piqued to ask us a reason for it (1 Pet. 3.15).
Knowing the hope of God’s calling with greater fullness and consistency thus prepares and fits us to fulfill our mandate of being witnesses for Christ, who make disciples as we are going (Acts 1.8; Matt. 28.18-20). And, as we fulfill that mandate, we make our unique contribution to filling all things in all things with the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1.22, 23).
So let’s have a closer look at the hope of God’s calling, those “things hoped for” which are so vital a part of true and saving faith.
Things hoped for
The writer of Hebrews explains that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” (Heb. 11.1, emphasis added). Faith – true and saving faith, the kind that Paul heard about in the Ephesians (1.15) – focuses on the things we hope for, which are the things to which God has called us, namely, His Kingdom and glory. We should think of this on two planes.
First is the plane of spiritual unseen things. The Christian knows that this temporal, material world is not all there is of God’s creation. The earth and the cosmos are set within a vast spiritual realm, which we may tap into for fulfilling God’s calling. In that realm, Christ is seated at the right hand of God. From His throne on high, He upholds the universe and everything in it (Heb. 1.3); He is putting all His enemies under His feet and establishing His rule in their very midst (Ps. 110.1, 2); He is building His Church (Matt. 16.18); and He is restoring the reconciled world to the Father through the Church (2 Cor. 5.17-21). Angels go back and forth at Christ’s command, to do His bidding on behalf of His saints (Heb. 1.13, 14). Myriads of departed saints fill the court of heaven with continuous praise to God and intercession for us, His people (Rev. 4, 5).
All this is happening all around us, all the time, and we earnestly hope one day to attain this by the grace of God. And we are seated in that unseen realm with Jesus (Eph. 2.6), that we may know the joy, power, and glory of that vast realm, and have our lives on earth shaped and stretched and employed in furthering the rule of Jesus on earth as we know it to exist in heaven (Matt. 6.10). Our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God holds out to us the hope of participating in this holy and glorious unseen realm in real and transforming ways, so that through us, heaven comes down to earth and the goodness of God comes to light in the land of the living (Ps. 27.13, 14).
This leads us to hope in God’s calling in the plane of temporal unseen things. As the Kingdom and glory of God work within us, to change us – by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation – into the image of Jesus Christ, the unseen hope of heaven begins to be realized in us, who are new creatures in Christ Jesus, filled with the hope of God’s calling. As we are changed, we work to change the world around us. We nurture a vision of the Kingdom’s righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit coming to expression in all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities. We long for the people in our lives to know the love of Jesus, to see the beauty of Jesus, and to experience the goodness of Jesus; and we order our lives to serve as channels of that unseen realm as it comes to expression in time.
Our great hope in this life is that we might realize more of the unseen things of the spiritual realm in the world we inhabit. And beyond both of these, we hope in the promise of a coming new world, where righteousness dwells, and death and sin will be no more. So we nurture a vision of our lives as vessels of faith and love through which Jesus begins to fill all things in all things. And we hope in God’s calling day by day, that we may increase in the realization of that calling to the Kingdom and glory of God.
To know the hope of our calling
What is the effect of this on us? That is, as we come to know the hope of God’s calling, how does this affect our outlook and our lives? Perhaps Paul has summarized it best: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3.7-14).
When we know the hope of God’s calling, everything in our lives becomes reoriented, reprioritized, renewed, redirected, and re-energized for seeing Jesus. We would see Jesus, to know more of Him at work within us, willing and doing of His good pleasure (Phil. 2.12, 13). We would see Jesus in order that we may have more of Him and less of our old sinful lives (Jn. 3.30). We would see Jesus for the wonder of it, for the joy of it, for the courage and boldness of it, and for the strength that flows from seeing Him.
As we increase in knowing the hope of God’s calling, that calling itself – the Kingdom and glory of God – increases in us and through us to fill all things in all things with our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
1. How would you explain to a new believer what God’s calling for us is?
2. How can we be more continuously aware of those unseen things which are so important for our faith?
3. What does it mean for you to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”?
Next steps – Preparation: Rewrite Philippians 3.7-14 as a prayer. Pray it often throughout the day. Share it with some friends.
T. M. Moore
For a fuller explanation of Philippians 3.7-11, order a copy of our book, To Know Him (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.