The Transcendent Life of God

By Francis Frangipane

The Gifts and Callings
It is to our shame in the West that many of our seminaries do not focus on becoming Christlike.  Instead it seems many devote themselves primarily to theology and hermeneutics. Obviously, we need correct biblical knowledge, but even more do we need conformity to Christ. Even in our churches we labor to see people released in "their gifts," and truly may we never stop! But let us not neglect the more foundational work of seeing Christ's likeness structured and then manifest into the congregational consciousness and attitude.

Let's look a little closer at the reality of our calling. Recall that Paul taught the gifts and calling of God were "without repentance" (Rom. 11:29 KJV). The apostle was writing about Israel and the irrevocable place she has in God's future. Yet the principle of which he speaks is true for us as well: God's calling on our lives, and His gifts, remain living realities independent of our state of heart. The gifts and calling of God exist "without repentance."

Here's what I mean: A pastor can still preach and even inspire a congregation though he is living in serious sin. His "calling" is not dependent upon the current state of his righteousness. A worship leader that commits adultery Saturday night still may stir a congregation Sunday morning because his gift still works "without repentance" of his sin. The evangelist that weeps as he saves souls, even after he spent the night drunk, thinks that God has excused his lawlessness. Yet, even while the Holy Spirit is outwardly working through the minister's gifts, the man or woman may actually be in grave spiritual danger. For after he has preached to others, he himself might be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27). Sadly, we have all seen gifts and callings remain functional even though individuals led double lives with hearts that were trapped in sin.

The fact that the gifts and calling of God operate somewhat independent of our character tells us that God will use imperfect people. But we still must beware. A day may come when we look to our gifts or ministry and plead, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?" But Christ will not have it. Instead, He will utter those most terrible words: "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matt. 7:22-23).

You see, our gifts are necessary and understanding our calling is vital. Yet attaining the nature of Christ is the absolute most important part our destiny.

Beloved, as we approach the end of the age, a new priority is coming to God's people: the summing up of "all things in Christ" (Eph. 1:10). Both our gifts and our calling must serve our destiny, which is to reveal the nature of Christ. The focus that brings meaning and fulfillment is that which works to conform us inwardly to Christ. Our lives are to become "a fragrance of Christ to God" (2 Cor. 2:15). Yes, the path to Christlikeness is the way to the transcendent life of God.