I find it interesting that Paul not only knew his calling but also understood that he was set apart for the gospel of God.
David wrote something similar in Psalms 139,
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
( Psalm 139:13-16 )
The call of Jeremiah came in much the same way...
4 "The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
( Jeremiah 1: 4-5 )
And of course let's not forget Jesus... Jesus had just returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit shortly after his run in with Satan in the desert where Satan tempted him. Jesus returned to Nazareth, where he grew up and went to the synagogue on the Sabbath and choose to read this passage concerning himself from the prophet Isaiah.
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
( Isaiah 61:1-2 )
Then what does Jesus say in Luke 4?
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." ( Luke 4:20-21 )
Here are four counts of a calling and recognition of what God had ordained for His good purpose from the moment of their conception.
Paul understood this when he said that he ‘was called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.'
These men knew and understood their calling and purpose and because of it they were able to move forward with what the Lord had ordained for them in the first place. Purpose, passion and direction marking their success -
Now Paul considered himself the chief sinner and we are very familiar with how he persecuted the church and hunted down Christians. But in Romans 1:1 he confesses that he is a servant of Christ Jesus - in some translations literally a slave of Christ ordained or set apart from the very beginning for the exclusive purpose of the gospel. Set apart to preach ‘the almost too good to be true news' of Jesus Christ.
Now Paul is laying the ground work for the amazing things he will be writing about in the book of Romans. How he was set apart for this gospel and what this gospel of Jesus entails, but to reflect and recognize that even though Paul was known throughout the early church as a persecutor of the brethren after his conversion is where he says, that he was set apart for the gospel - meaning called, ordained and appointed from birth.
Understanding ones calling and purpose in life will save a lot of heart ache along the way -
In the four examples that I've shared, all of these men knew their purpose along the way, who knew that God saw and knew them from the beginning lived with the ending in mind to the Glory of God.
David was called, ‘a man after God's own heart...'
Jeremiah was a prophet to the nations, just like the Lord had said he would be...
And what can we say about Jesus? Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus defeated sin and death and he redeemed that which was lost when sin entered into the world. Jesus saves all who believe in him to the Glory of the Father because God sent him as a propitiation for our sins. And Jesus fulfilled the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘he has proclaimed the year of the Lords favor"
In the same way Paul knew and understood that he was set apart for the gospel and because of it Paul and His friends evangelized the known world of that time.
What a difference you and I can make when we understand these principals... First that God knows and loves us and created us with a purpose and a plan right from the beginning. Secondly, when we seek him and understand what the plan is, then we will be successful. Third, when we operate in what the Lord has called us to do, this is truly when we will find contentment and overflow with joy in life...
I will leave you with the Prophet Jeremiah in closing, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD" ( Jeremiah 29:11-14 )
May God bless you and show you the purpose he has for your life