Called, Chosen, and Sanctified–
In the Book of Acts, the Lord says that the Apostle Paul was a “chosen vessel” unto Him.
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:” (Acts 9:15)
Jesus said that “many are called, but few are chosen.”
“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” (Mat. 20:16)
The Bible tells us what God requires of those who desire to be a “chosen vessel” for the Lord and His glory.
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Tim. 2:19)
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.” (2Tim. 2:20)
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2Ti 2:21)
If we are to be a vessel unto honor then we must be “sanctified”.
Here the word “sanctified” literally means to “make holy, purify, or consecrate”. It also means to be “separated” unto God.
Sanctification means that we have consecrated our lives to Christ or that we have separated ourselves unto God.
It does not mean to separate ourselves from the world, from the very people that God has called us to reach out to and show the love of God.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church,
“I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.” (1Cor. 5:9-10)
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” (1Cor. 5:11)
Paul had previously written to the Church at Corinth but they had misunderstood what he had written.
They misunderstood the Apostle Paul’s directions to separate themselves from the people in the Church that were continuing in sin. Instead, they had begun to separate themselves from the unbelievers that lived outside the Church.
Paul had received word that they were refusing to have any associations, business dealings, or communications with the non-Christians living in Corinth. The Church had begun to appear aloof and disinterested in the community where they dwelt.
This was hindering the spread of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and Paul had to write again to them in order to clarify himself.
Jesus sat and ate with sinners, but He had no use for the hypocritical, self-righteous religious leaders who harbored sin in their hearts.
We are to be sanctified to the Lord, not separated from the world. We are, however, called to be separated from the love of the world.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1John 2:15)
The people who are consecrated to God and separated from the love of the world are the people that God will use to be “chosen vessels”, sanctified and “fit for the Master’s use”, prepared unto every good work.
These are the people who have prepared themselves to behold and be part of the miracles created by God.
One good example of this is the story of the Prophet Elijah and Elisha in the Old Testament.
Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of God in the Old Testament. We can read of the great works and miracles that God did through him in the Books of First and Second Kings.
The time came towards the end of Elijah’s ministry that the Lord instructed him to find a man by the name of Elisha and anoint him to take his place as the prophet of God.
“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.” (1Ki. 19:19)
“And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?” (1Ki. 19:20)
“And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.” (1Ki. 19:21)
The mantle in the Old Testament represented the anointing of the prophet. When Elijah cast his mantle on Elisha, Elisha understood what it meant.
This was Elijah’s way of saying, “Come and follow me. Be my apprentice and be a partaker of the anointing and call that’s upon my life.”
Perhaps this was a sudden surprise to Elisha, or perhaps the Lord had already prepared his heart. Nevertheless, Elisha knew that this meant leaving home and family behind and so he wanted to go and kiss his parents “good-by”, possibly to explain to them where he was going.
Elijah told him to “go back again”, in other words “forget it, never mind”, but then he said, “What have I done to thee?”
Elisha knew exactly who Elijah was and what this meant.
The whole nation of Israel knew about this great prophet who would stand and rebuke kings, who could raise the dead, call fire down from God, who could shut the heavens to stop the rain, then pray again and the rain would fall.
Sometimes we have to decide what’s more important.
“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
Elisha had to make a choice. How important was the call? Should he commit himself to it? It might never come again.
Elisha went back to the field that he was plowing. He broke up the plow and built a fire with the pieces. He slaughtered the oxen to cook and feed the people.
The other workers might have asked, “What are you doing Elisha? Why are you breaking up your plow and killing your oxen?”
His answer might have been, “Because I’m never coming back.”
Elisha provided himself no place to ever come back to. He totally consecrated and sanctified himself to the call that Elijah had placed upon him.
Later, after years of faithful ministry, the time came for God to take Elijah up to heaven. Elisha asked one thing of Elijah before he was to go. He asked if he could receive a double portion of the anointing that was upon Elijah.
Elijah told his servant that if he saw him taken up, then his request would be granted. In other words, if you are still consecrated to me and haven’t left my side, then God will give it to you.
Elisha continued to follow Elijah as they went, and when Elijah was caught up to heaven by a whirlwind and his mantle fell to the ground, Elisha seeing the sight picked up the mantle knowing that the promise was his.
He struck the waters of the Jordan River with the mantle of Elijah and said, “Where is the God of Elijah?” and the waters parted so that he could walk across on dry ground.
Elisha had received the reward for the consecration he had committed himself to so long ago when Elijah had first thrown his mantle upon him.
The Bible teaches us the things that happened in the Old Testament are examples for us and they foreshadow spiritual things that apply to us in the New Testament.
The story of Elisha’s consecration to Elijah (if you see me when I go, if you’re still by my side, if we’re still step-by-step together) is a physical representation of the spiritual consecration we are to have to the Lord if we are to be a chosen vessel.
Many people erroneously believe that Elijah was taken up to heaven by a chariot of fire. This is not so. The Bible says that Elijah was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind.
“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2Ki. 2:11)
Elisha was so consecrated, sanctified, and close to Elijah that the Lord had to send a chariot and horses of fire to separate the two.
The horses and chariot approached, Elisha jumped one way and Elijah jumped the other, and God was able to take up Elijah with the whirlwind into heaven and leave Elisha behind to finish the work of the prophet.
Elisha had determined in his heart that nothing was going to keep him from obeying God and receiving the anointing of the prophet.
He had decided that neither family, nor job, nor friends, nor anything else was going to get between him and the prophet to separate them.
Elisha was totally sanctified and consecrated to Elijah.
This is the type of sanctification, consecration, and dedication that God requires of us if we are going to be a “chosen vessel” fit for His use.
Not physically as it was with Elisha, but spiritually.
We need to determine that no hidden sin, no habit, no wrong attitude, no area of our life or mind that we have not submitted to Christ will get between us and the anointing of God.
We must determine that nothing in our heart or mind will hinder us from being a vessel fit for His use. We must determine to hold nothing back from God.
This is the life of sanctification and consecration to the Lord that will be one of the keys to opening the door of faith and beholding miracles from God.