And we know that all things work together for good to
them that love God, to them who are the called
according to His purpose.
It has already been noted that the "we" are those submitted
to walking in the Spirit and prayerfully walking in agreement
with the will of God through intercessory partnership. Likewise
the "we" are those who "love" God - have experienced His
friendship - through "all things" which the Father incorporates
into the life of His own. The "called," however, reveals
something different, something unique, something special about
these who walk in agreement with the Holy Spirit of God.
The Greek word for "called" in our text means (the invited).
It comes from a term meaning (to incite by word). The "called"
are those who have been invited by the Word of God to receive the
inheritance of sonship. If one accepts the invitation, they in
turn are accepted by the Heavenly Father and become His family.
Since my wife and I have three children, we know what it
means to prepare for birthday parties. First, the children
select those they wish to invite. They each have many friends
but since we cannot accommodate the entire church and school at
once, they must select [choose] those whom they feel will come
and those whose company they enjoy the most.
Secondly, the children solicit those they wish to invite.
The dictionary uses the word "invite" as a synonym for (solicit).
That is, making request of others for a particular purpose. The
solicitation is a result of selection and is generally done by
word of mouth or, in some cases, by written request.
The third thing which occurs is separation. Some they have
solicited are, for one reason or another, unable to attend. This
leaves the "selected" few. These select few are separated from
all their other friends. It has nothing to do with whether or
not the remaining children are better than other children, It
simply means they are separated by choice out of friendship.
The fourth thing I will emphasize concerning the selection
of those coming to the party, is that they are sanctified - set
apart for a particular purpose, (I.E., the birthday party). They
most certainly are coming because they were invited, and because
they wish to do so, and they plan to have fun, too; but the truth
is, they have been set apart [sanctified] from others.
Finally one might say that these invited guests are
"secured." They have been selected and solicited. In turn, they
are separated from others and sanctified - set apart - for a
party. Then they are secured - officially made guests. In
essence, they are the "called."
By now you see the spiritual parallel. The "called" are
(selected) to become His children out of His love. Thus we are
(solicited) [invited] to become His eternal family. As such, we
are (separated) from others; not because we are special or unique
in and of ourselves, but because He, our Lord Christ, is special
to the Heavenly Father and uniquely the Son of God. Furthermore,
we are (sanctified). We have been divinely set apart with
purpose, made pure by the blood of Christ, for the glory of God.
Then, finally, we are (secured) - officially made His possession,
"the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are the
children of God."1 Such are the "called" of God - incited by
His Holy Word.
I suggest you stop for a few minutes and turn in your Bible
to the Old Testament and read the ten chapters of Esther. This
fascinating story illustrates so well how we are called of God.
Esther, along with perhaps hundreds of other women, were
selected - chosen - by the king to participate in a beauty
pageant. Although the call from the king went out to all women,
the only women solicited for the pageant were virgins for he, the
king, was choosing his queen. This uniquely separated these
women from all others. For six months they were fastidiously
bathed, groomed, beatified, and treated with oils of myrrh. For
another six months they were lavishly anointed with the finest
perfumes of the kingdom. Thus these select few, then solicited,
and separated women were sanctified [purified] for a special
purpose, that is, to become the queen. Following the twelve
months of purification, one out of all the others was secured and
confirmed as the ruling queen.
At this point, one might suggest that the illustration fails
because we, "the called," are many, not "one." On the contrary,
we are one - the Body of Christ. Additionally, the "called One"
is none other than the only begotten Son of God and the Father
sees us as "one" in His Son. Jesus prayed exactly that in John
17 just before His crucifixion. Pay careful attention to our
Lord's remarks, as He prayed to the Father: "That they all may
be one; as You, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they all
may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent
me."2 Thus we hold a unique position in relationship to the
Heavenly Father. As we pray in the Spirit, therefore, such
uniqueness should be recognized with reverence.
Our Lord used the word "chosen" often in reference to His
own. John's Gospel records the words of the Lord Jesus in such
context: "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you..."3
Again He said we are "chosen out of the world."4 The Greek word
"chosen" is used twenty-one times in the New Testament and is
translated "to (select). We are the "selected" ones; not because
we have selected [chosen] Him, but because He, God, has selected
Although the dictionary defines "chosen" or "choose" as (to
select), a clarification is additionally offered as: (To take or
fix upon by an act of will in accordance with a decision made by
judgment). "Select", on the other hand, suggests a preference
based upon discrimination. The word "discrimination" has, over
the years, gained an ugly connotation but if used properly,
simply means (to distinguish between persons or things by noting
Such doctrine often results in spiritual insecurity on the
part of some simply because of the fear that perhaps God makes
His selection, or choice, by chance. The "choosing," or
selection, is not guess work nor has God made His choice as
though picking the best out of a litter of kittens or puppies.
The word "chosen" comes from a root, or base, lego, meaning (to
lay forth). This same root word, lego, is the base for logos -
the Word...The Word of God. Thus, the Heavenly Father makes His
choice, or selection, based upon those who responde to the "call"
of His Word. They become His "chosen." Even our word "called"
taken from Romans 8:28 comes from a root meaning (to incite by
word). It is the Word of God which calls us and results in God's
choice of children - sons and daughters of God.
God's people have a covenant which distinguishes them from
others. God secures their relationship with Him through the
covenant for eternity and it releases tremendous power when lived
by faithfully. It is binding and bounding and unbreakable. It
is even confirmed by God's own Son to insure finality.
A covenant could be defined as: (Mutual agreements by the
confession of promises confirming common interests, guidelines,
and boundaries). Although the western mind has little knowledge,
and practically no comprehension of the true nature of covenant,
Asian and African populations, on the other hand, have been
firmly structured by such relationships since ancient times. The
closest example we might have in the western hemisphere of such a
relationship would be marriage.
Some believe that love constitutes marriage. Many, however,
confess their love for each other today but one out of every two
marriages ends in divorce. If we were to inculcate with this
statistic, all the couples living together who subsequently
separate and go their own way, the figures of divorce would be
astronomical. Marriage, and covenant, have almost no meaning in
If love does not constitute marriage, then what? The
speaking, or confessing, of vows confirms a marriage. The couple
stands before God and friends and confess not only their love,
but their desire - personal will - to give themselves to each
other for the rest of their lives. These confessions [vows] are
spoken before God, and personally witnessed to insure eternality.
Love, therefore, consecrates, rather than constitutes, marriage.
The spoken vows, on the other hand, announce a covenant
relationship and have their roots in covenants performed by
ancient peoples. The Hebrews were equally acquainted with
covenant since God Himself established covenant with them.
Covenants, I might add, can only be broken by death; hence, the
marital vow: "Till death do us part."
Although volumes could easily be written on the nature and
character of Biblical covenant, I offer here a simple overview
for a better understanding of those pages to fallow. In the next
chapter, we will take a more intimate look at how covenant
applies in light of our partnership with the Holy Spirit in
In more ancient times, howbeit practiced even today by many
tribes, the making, or cutting, of a covenant was the strongest,
most binding, form of agreement possible. The word "covenant"
means literally (to cut). This comes from the offering of a
sacrifice which had to be cut [slain] to offer its blood, and
from the cutting of hands or wrists to confirm the covenant
between persons or tribes. God's covenant with Abraham and his
progeny was "cut" by circumcision; something totally foreign
among the peoples of the earth at that time.
Often representatives were chosen to speak in the be half of
tribes and peoples. Later the tribes would join together in
celebration of the cut covenant. The representatives would sit
and discuss covenant - the agreements they would share. This
involved insuring warlessness between them, protecting each
other from outside attack, the sharing of crops, the provision of
need if, for example one might suffer loss from drought or flood,
Following the agreements, gifts would be exchanged.
Sometimes daughters of the heads of tribes would be exchanged in
marriage as tokens of total commitment to the covenant. More
often gifts such as weapons, the most valued possession of the
chiefs, would be exchange as a symbol of their loyalty. Cattle,
horses, sheep, and other such valuables might also be exchanged.
An animal would always be sacrificed thus symbolizing the
severity of the covenant. The animal would be cut in half and
separated, - divided. The blood, and death of the animal,
demonstrated the seriousness of the agreement. Anyone breaking
covenant would be killed and his blood shed. The sacrifice
likewise represented the covenant was until death. The parties
involved, perhaps the representatives who had been selected,
would then walk about the severed pieces of the sacrificed animal
in a figure eight; symbolic of an everlasting agreement -
continuous - unbroken.
There, of course, would also be the exchange of promises.
The gifts offered were usually representative of those promises
but verbal promises were also made. Again, promises of
protection, provision, and total loyalty. To confirm there
allegiance which they had confess verbally, the cutting of the
wrists would follow. As the blood ran from the wound, hands were
then raised and they would swear to the covenant. This practice
is very likely where modern day court procedures got the swearing
in of a witness as they raise their right hand to swear to tell
the truth. Sometimes the palms of hands were cut and the
participants would grasp hands and swear to the agreement being
made. This is perhaps how the practice of shaking hands was
During the covenant ceremony, the confessing of blessings
and cursings for compliance and breech of the covenant would
occur. In this way, everyone involved would fully understand the
power, force, behind the agreements made. Even the exchange of
names would be a part of the cutting of covenant to insure
The final element of the cutting of a covenant would be the
covenant meal. The heads of tribes would sit and share a simple
meal, often bread and wine, to demonstrate sincerity of perpetual
fellowship. The covenant meal confirmed the agreement was sealed
and permanent, never to be broken. The celebrations then would
It should be noted that such covenants were called "love
covenants" because those involved were intimately bonded by
promise. The love covenants were so powerful that no one ever,
from the day it was cut, would ever question its validity.
Entire nations lived and died by the covenants established. The
oriental, with their ninja warriors and samurai, understood such
covenants. The African and South American tribes likewise lived
by such agreements and gave their lives, if necessary, to protect
those in covenant. Perhaps this explanation of covenant will
offer insight to the covenant God made with Abraham in the book
As you continue to read the balance of this book, keep in
mind that Jesus the Christ is God's representative sent to offer
Himself as the covenant today. He, Jesus the Lord Christ, is
come as a "love covenant:" "For God so loved the world that He
gave His only begotten Son." He even gave His life to insure the
covenant would never be broken and shed His blood to secure His
people. His hands, wrists, were scarred from the nail prints to
remind us of that covenant cut with God. The mystery of the
Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is revealed in the part He plays
in keeping, or maintaining, covenant relationship with our
Heavenly Father. He does this through intercessory prayer -
according to the will, covenant, of God.
As just seen, a covenant has certain elements which are part
of it's nature, that is, those things necessary for covenant
establishment. Likewise, a covenant has character - distinctives
- which afford effectiveness and performance, without which the
agreement is negated.
The efficacy of a cut covenant was only if one had been
conceived (I.E., born into), as family. Otherwise, a new
covenant would thus have to be cut. If one, on the other hand,
was born into a covenant family, all benefits of the covenant
were immediately available.
Our Lord spoke to Nicodemus by night and told him he must be
born again to inherit the kingdom of God. That inheritance was
the covenant for which our Lord Christ came to secure, by the
sacrifice of His life, for eternity. It is not accidental that
Paul proclaimed: "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is
Lord, and you believe in your heart that God has raised Him from
the dead, you will be saved."5 Confession must first be made.
What is the confession? "Jesus is Lord!" This immediately
secures all that He has and can do for you because you have
exchanged your life for His and He has already done so for you
upon the cross.
Additionally, Romans 10:9 refers to what we must believe:
"God has raise Christ from the dead." This belief is not
something mystical or something one must generate before
salvation is secured. it simply means "commitment." In
covenant, one must demonstrate commitment. Such was often shown
by the cutting, the sacrifice, the blood shed, or the exchanging
of gifts. For the one confessing Jesus as Lord, all these things
were done for them by Christ who offered Himself as the vicarious
sacrifice. As we will see in the next chapter, we only need
fellowship - commune with our Heavenly Father - by sitting down
to the covenant meal. The Holy Spirit assists us in performing
and maintaining this fellowship through covenant prayer. We,
however, must believe [commit] and simply submit to the
Holy Spirit who has been sent to functionalize the covenant we
already have by Christ.
Although circumcision is widely practiced today for reasons
of proper hygiene, it originally was practiced by the Hebrews
because of God's covenant with them through Abraham. As stated
earlier, a covenant was confirmed by a "cutting" in the hands or
wrist. In the case of the Abrahamic covenant, however, God
required circumcision; something totally unknown at that time. I
suggest that you stop and read Genesis chapters 15 through 22 .
Within these chapters you will see the elements of covenant
already discussed, including the requirement of circumcision.
The question is, however, why did God require circumcision?
Generally, and even in the case of our Lord, the cutting was in
the hand or wrist so all could see the scars and recognize
covenant relationship. Abraham, and all of his descendants, were
required a cutting which was private, unseen, and hitherto
unknown; seen only by God. Circumcision speaks of intimacy and
singularity. God made covenant with one man at one time and all
the descendants of that one man would come under that covenant by
circumcision; thus identifiable. The act of circumcision, of
course, was symbolic of that which was to come.
Circumcisions were to be performed on the eighth day
following one's birth.6 Our Lord arose on the eighth day, that
is, the first day of a new week. Thus by His "circumcision" we
are covenanted with God.7 Our symbolic circumcision speaks of
"newness." The number (8) in Scripture speaks of a "newness" or
"new beginning." Be reminded once again that during the animal
sacrifice in the covenant ceremony, the sacrifice was divided
[separated] and the participants walked in a figure eight in and
around the two halves of the divided animal. Our Lord traversed
life and death eternally when He arose on the eighth [first] day
of the week.
As circumcision was given to Abraham and his descendants as
a "sign,"8 so our spiritual circumcision of the heart [spirit] is
a sign; private unseen, hitherto unknown, made without hands.9
Circumcision was given Abraham as a "seal" of his faith in
God.10 Such seals in Old Testament times were given by the
king, or ruler, of the land to indicate absolute authority.
Usually the king's ring was imprinted [stamped] in hot wax to
secure a document, only to be opened by another such of equal
authority and power. The "seal" of circumcision was symbolic of
Abraham's faith, thus he, Abraham, was given the righteousness of
God. We likewise have obtained such righteousness and been given
the "seal" of the Holy Spirit, and thus possess the righteousness
of our Heavenly Father.11 We are even "justified," by faith
whether we be circumcised or uncircumcised physically.12
Upon reading Luke's account of the Acts of the apostles and
Paul's teachings in both the letters to the Romans and Galatians,
we discover there was quite a controversy in the early church
over circumcision. Paul and Peter even engaged in debate over
it. Some were promoting that circumcision was a Scriptural
requirement for salvation. Paul made it clear, however, that
such teaching was simply not true. He stated, however the
following: And you are complete in Him, which is the head of all
principality and power: In whom also you are circumcised with the
circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the
sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.13 Christ
obtain circumcision for us and then, by faith and confession in
Him as Lord, He gives us the circumcision of the
heart/spirit.14 Could this possibly be the symbolic meaning of
the piercing of our Lord's side - near the heart - (I.E., the
circumcision of the heart?)
As the circumcision required by God of Abraham was private,
unseen, and intimate, so is the circumcision of the heart. God
was the only one able to see [know] Abraham was in covenant with
Him and it is thus the Holy Spirit who likewise sees [knows] of
our spiritual circumcision: "And God that searches the hearts,
knows what is the mind of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit
makes intercession for the saints according to the will -
covenant - of God."
Although the shedding of blood, confession of promises, the
exchanging of gifts, the cutting of flesh, and the offering of
sacrifices, all demonstrated covenant, these were all signs given
to show confirmation. Actually confirmation could only be in
evidence as those in covenant lived out their lives. The same is
representative in marriage today. Couples may hold a marriage
certificate, they may have given blood to be tested, which is
generally required by state governments before marriages are
granted, they may have confessed their love and devotion publicly
before God and friends, they may have exchanged gifts I.E. the
wedding rings, they may even live together as husband and wife,
but do any of these things confirm a marriage? A marriage is
only confirmed by the faithfulness of those whose lives are
conducted in harmony. In another words, if the couple practices
what they preached - confessed - in their spoken vows. Many
Christians today not only have little knowledge and understanding
of Biblical covenant with God, but they are simply not faithful
to the confessions of the mouth I.E. Jesus as Lord.
While in Bible college, my roommate brought back his fish
tank from home one weekend. We got everything set up, including
the miniature castles, multi colored rocks, the sparkling geodes
with their tiny stalactites and stalagmites, and the pump to
freshen the water with bubbling oxygen. Since my roommate had
furnished the tank and all of its accessaries, I offered to
purchase the fish. We made plans to barrow a friends car the
very next weekend, and every weekend thereafter, to purchase some
fish; but we never purchased a single one.
We lived in a four-plex on campus and our apartment had the
washer and dryer. The other students living in our complex had
to come and use the washer and dryer and often they would load
the machines and then sit in our living room patiently waiting
for their laundry. They often, of course, began gazing at our
twenty gallon brilliantly lighted exquisitely furnished, fishless
fish tank. After several minutes of studying the empty tank,
they always inquired,
"Hey, you guys...where's the fish in this thing?" Our
answer was always the same. Without looking up from our books,
"Oh, they're in there hiding among the geodes and castles.
Just keep looking." They often lasted several minutes before
they realized they were being fooled and retrieving their clothes
from the machines, they would vacate the apartment with a snort
and a smile.
I use this illustration many times to demonstrate how often
it is discovered that people confess salvation without ever truly
confessing Jesus as Lord. Many have the appearance of
Christianity - They glitter and shine, they function in the
element of spirituality, they carry their Bible, they pray, they
sing the Christian song, they bubble with the joy of the Lord -
but when scrutinized by the brilliant illumination of the
Holy Spirit, there is no covenant reflection.
Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall
enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that does the
will of my Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to
me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in
your name? And in your name have cast out devils? And
in your name done many wonderful works? And then will
I profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from me,
you who work iniquity.15
Such teaching should not bring condemnation or fear to the heart
of one truly walking in covenant relationship with the Heavenly
Father. Such acts, on the other hand - preaching the Word,
casting out unclean spirits, and the doing of signs and wonders -
should indeed confirm that we are covenant Believers.16 Such
faithfulness in working the works of our Lord should not be an
attempt to confirm covenant, but rather should be the evidence
that we indeed are covenant people. In another words, we are
faithfully married to our LOrd and our love is confirmed
consistently by the way we live in Him. In this way, that which
is unseen - the circumcision of the heart/spirit - can be seen by
those outside of covenant relationship with God. "Let your light
so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father which is in Heaven."17 Perhaps Paul
described it best: "For we are the circumcision, which worship
God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no
confidence in the flesh."18
And we know that all things work together for good to
them that love God, to them who are the called
according to His purpose.
It has been previously stated that the "we" are not simply
all Christians but rather "the called." The called people have
been chosen by God because they have heard and responded to the
call of His eternal Word. Because of their response, God has
made covenant with them through His Son Jesus Christ. Thus,
these "called" are able to "know" - see with spiritual vision
through faith - that all things are worked together for their
benefit. They, the called, indeed "love" - have made friends
with God - through all things they face together in covenant
relationship. Such a friendship is only possible by covenant.
In essence, they who take up prayer partnership with God's
Holy Spirit have embraced the love covenant as God works all
things together for their benefit. The mystery of the
Holy Spirit is in how He keeps renewing this covenant
relationship as He "makes intercession for the saints according
to the will of God." Thus, it is of absolute necessity we learn
to pray in the Spirit.
FOOTNOTES FOR CHAPTER 7
1 Rom. 8:16-17
2 John 17:21
3 John 15:16
4 John 15:19
5 Rom. 10:9
6 Acts 7:8 & Phil. 3:5
7 Col. 2:11
8 Rom. 4:11
9 Rom. 2:28-29
10 Rom. 4:11
11 Eph. 1:13
12 Rom. 3:30
13 Col. 2:10-11
14 Rom. 2:29
15 Matt. 7:21-23
16 Mark 16:15-20
17 Matt. 5:16
18 Phil. 3:3
End Of Chapter 7
PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT
By Phil Scovell
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