The Lord’s church is His called out body and Christians are His called-out people. The English word “church” is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia,” which literally means “called out.” The Lord’s church is compromised of individual people who have been called out. For us to understand this explanation, there are some questions we must answer.
Called Out By What?
When a person is called out to be a member of the Lord’s body, it does not occur through some mysterious voice, dream, or feeling. A person is simply called out by the preaching of the gospel. Paul wrote, “It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:14). In every example of conversion in the Bible, it was always the gospel that brought about the conversion. Even when Paul saw a vision on the road to Damascus, he still had to obey the gospel call in order to be saved (Acts 9:1-22; 22:1-16).
Even though this calling happens through the preaching of men, we must understand that it is through the call of God Himself. Paul said, “He (God) called you through our gospel.” Paul and other faithful men preached the gospel, but it was God who called through the gospel. Paul praised the Christians at Thessalonica for accepting the gospel “for what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Called Out From What?
Those who respond to the gospel when it is preached come out from the world of sin and darkness. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The whole world is able to heed the gospel call of God regardless of race, religion, or social status. All those who hear the gospel are called to come “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). When a person is in darkness they are separated from God because of their sins. The gospel is preached to call sinners out from the dark and to be free from sin.
For a believer to be called out from the world implies that a separation has taken place between the believer and the world. This does not mean that we are to live our lives in isolation from the world. This is a spiritual separation because Christians are not commanded to physically depart from the world (1 Corinthians 5:9-10).
Called Out To What?
Christians have been called out of the world and into the kingdom of God. “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). Citizens of the kingdom of God have been called to many wonderful things.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
“For you were called to freedom…” (Galatians 5:13).
“…those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).
Called Out For What?
Christians are called out for salvation through sanctification and faith. “…God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). The gospel is God’s word, and God’s word is how the Holy Spirit sanctifies God’s people. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Christians are also called out to proclaim the excellencies of Christ. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
The Bible teaches us that the church is called by the gospel of Christ from the world of sin into the kingdom of Christ for the purpose of salvation by sanctification and faith and to proclaim His excellent name.
The question is: Will you answer the call?