The Church of God will be keeping the Day of Pentecost this year on June 9, 2019, celebrating the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. All of those who have been blessed with this special gift even before the Feast of Pentecost, on that very day, or ever since, were carefully selected by God. They were not rewarded for what they had done; God was not prompted to call them to salvation because of their “tremendous righteousness.” Rather, God the Father brought us to Christ because of His own Will, and He made that decision long before our birth, before we had done anything good or evil.
The Apostle James tells us very clearly: “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). Those whom God has foreknown and predestined to be called in this day and age with the goal of being conformed to Christ’s image, are called firstfruits, because they are being called first in comparison with the rest of mankind who will be called later. But we repeat: Belonging to the firstfruits does not mean that God chose us because we were in any way better or more righteous than others.
Comparing our calling with God’s election of Jacob, Paul tells us in Romans 9:10-12, 16:
“… when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children [Jacob and Esau] not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’… So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.”
Our calling is based on God’s Will and His mercy. In Ephesians 1:3-5, 9, 11-14, Paul continues to explain to us:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons [better: sonship] by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will… having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself…
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, [which] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
When God called us whom He had predestined for this very purpose, we responded to Him and began as the “first,” before the rest of mankind, to trust in Christ, and after genuine repentance of having broken His laws and after accepting Christ’s Sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins and believing the gospel of the Kingdom of God, we became baptized and received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, which guarantees inheritance of eternal life in the Kingdom of God IF we stay faithful.
As the firstfruits, we must strive to live a godly and holy life, being undefiled with “women” and without deceit and fault in the eyes of God (Revelation 14:4-5). As those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we eagerly wait for the redemption of our physical body by becoming immortal sons and daughters in God’s Family (Romans 8:23).
Drawing a parallel to the calling of Israelites and Gentiles to the spiritual Body of Christ, Paul is also telling us that we must be careful not to glory about ourselves (compare 1 Corinthians 1:29), for “if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy” (Romans 11:16). God will, in His due time, call everyone to salvation, and so, Paul warns us, “Do not be haughty, but fear” (Romans 11:20), adding, “… you should not be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion” (verse 25). Paul explains as well that God can and will cut us off, not sparing us, if we neglect so great a salvation, adding in 1 Corinthians 10:12: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
Nobody who has received God’s Spirit needs to fall. As firstfruits, we can and should make it into His Kingdom, but we must view ourselves with the proper humble perspective–not as those who deserved to be called, but as those who have received God’s undeserved mercy and pardon to become trustworthy and faithful. And as God’s true and dedicated unpretentious servants, we will act humbly and do whatever we can to participate in God’s great Work for His Church in these last days–to help in preaching and proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom of God as a witness in all the world (Matthew 24:14), and to help in making ready God’s people prepared for Christ (Luke 1:17; Revelation 19:7; 21:2).