The Call of a Man of God
There are too many men in ministry who should not be in ministry. There are many in ministry who have lost their desire to continue in ministry but continue for various reasons and there are those who are in ministry but wonder what happened to make them feel like failures. A good look at the Call of the Man of God might remedy this. I have separate Sections to help the reader break this subject down to readable, digestible and easy to study individually and in groups.
First of all the bible teaches that there is a call God gives to all – I call it the
- GENERAL CALL:
- To Salvation: 8:29-30; 1 Cor. 1:26-29; 2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Pet. 1:10
- To Serve: 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:7-31; 1 Pet. 2:9; Eph. 2:10
- Specific Call to Full-time Service:
Paul: Acts 9:1-19; 26:12-18; 1 Tim. 1:12; Gal 1,2
Moses: Ex. 3:10-11; 4:10-17; Is. 6:1-13; Jer. 1:4-10; Jms. 3:1
Point 3 above nails the importance of a SPECIFIC CALL to full-time ministry. Let’s expand on this.
- THE NECESSITY OF A DIVINE CALL TO THE MINISTRY.
A SPECIAL call from God is essential to the exercise of the Christian ministry. (1 Pet. 5:2-3; Jn. 15:8)
No one was permitted to speak for God in the OT without being commissioned by God
- “The prophet which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, shall die” (Deut. 18:20)
- “Behold, I am against the prophets that steal My words” (Jer. 23:30-32; see also Is. 6; 1: 4‑10).
- Ministers, in the New Testament, are always spoken of as designated by God.
- The elders of Ephesus were set over the flock by the Holy Ghost (Acts 20: 28).
- Archippus received his ministry “in the Lord” (Col. 4:17).
- Paul and Barnabas were separated for the work by the Holy Ghost (Acts 13:2).
- The ministry constitutes a special gift from Christ to the Church; for “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11, 12). God bestows the gifts for these offices, and God Himself sends the men forth to
their work, in answer to the prayers of His people. (See Rom. 12: 6,7; Luke 10:1,2, Also 1 Pet. 4:10, 11)
- The nature of the office, as implied in the terms used to designate it, requires a personal divine call.
- Ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)
- Stewards of God (1 Cor. 4:1)
The ministry, then, is entered in obedience to a special call from God. The consciousness of this is essential. There is a sense of obligation as expressed in its strongest form by Paul: “Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16) — I am under COMPULSION! (NASB) (If I don’t I’m in sin / disobedient!)
Two opposite errors are to be avoided.
- The Call is NOT a mere preference for the work of the ministry. Different from a sense of call that ordinary normal Christians should have about any career!
- The Call doesn’t normally come like a voice from heaven, attended with intense mental struggles
The evidences of it are found in a prayerful examination of one’s own experience compared with God’s Word.
There is nothing so overwhelmingly absorbing; relentlessly demanding; and wonderfully rewarding than this highest call in the entire world — to be a minister of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
- THE INNER URGING/SENSE OF CALL
- A fixed and earnest desire for the work: “This is a true: saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” (1 Tim. 3:1). Paul said: “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
- An abiding impression of duty to preach the gospel: The apostle Paul said: “Necessity is laid upon me: yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).
- A sense of personal weakness and unworthiness and a heartfelt reliance on divine power: Paul said: “Such trust have we through Christ to Godward; not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament” (2 Cor. 3:4‑6).
- H. Spurgeon has said this: “ … the first sign of the heavenly calling is an intense, all‑absorbing desire for the work. In order to have a true call to the ministry there must be an irresistible, overwhelming craving and raging thirst for telling others what God has done to our own souls.” (Lectures to my Students, pg. 26).
- THE EVIDENCES OF A CALL TO MINISTRY
- Sound conversion: Evidences of Sound Conversion Conviction Rom. 7:18,24
True Repentance — sorrow, penitence, turning around
Transformed life: 2 Cor. 5:17
- A HIGHER THAN NORMAL STANDARD. A superior order of piety. He is to be “an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12; Also 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17-22)
Robert Murray McCheyne said this to a young man at his ordination:
“Do not forget the culture of the inner man — I mean, of the heart. How diligently the Cavalry Officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword, His instrument — I trust. A chosen vessel unto Him, to bear His Name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfection of the instrument will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”
- Soundness in the faith. He is both to “hold fast the form of sound words” (2 Tim. 1: 13) and to “speak the things which become sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1).
- Adequate mental capacity and training, and scriptural knowledge. He is to show himself “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
- Aptness to teach. God’s word is to be committed only “to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2) — men “apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves” (2 Tim. 2:24, 25). Paul and Barnabas not only preached the gospel, but they “so spake that a great multitude, both of the Jews and also of the Greeks, believed” (Acts 14:1).
- Practical wisdom and executive ability.
- Finally, a good report of them that are without. A minister cannot escape opposition. If faithful to Christ, he may experience, as thousands have experienced, bitter persecution; but in purity and integrity of personal character he is to “have a good report” (1 Tim. 3:7), “giving none offence, that the ministry be not blamed” (2 Cor. 6:3), but “commending” himself “to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2). Without this acknowledged purity of spirit and life, his work as a minister is necessarily a failure, for otherwise he cannot keep the consciences of men on his side.
Luther says: “Every minister of God’s Word should be sure of his calling, that before God and man he may with a bold conscience glory therein, that he preached the gospel as one that is sent; even as the ambassador of a king glorieth and vaunteth in this, that he cometh not as a private person, but as the king’s ambassador.”*
*Luther on Galatians, p. 32
John MacArthur in his book, The Master’s Plan for the Church writes: “It is significant that in his description of the qualifications for elders, Paul focused in their character rather than their function. A man is qualified because of what he is, not because of what he does … the spiritual qualifications for leaders are nonnegotiable. I am convinced they are part of what determines whether a man is indeed called by God to the ministry. Bible schools and seminaries can help equip a man for ministry, Church Boards and Pulpit Committees can extend opportunities for him to serve, but only God can call a man and make him fit for the ministry. And that call is not a matter of analyzing one’s talents and then selecting the best career option. It is a Spirit-generated compulsion to be a man of God and serve Him in the Church. Those whom God calls will meet the qualifications”.
CONCLUSION: 2 Tim. 1:1; Rom. 1:1-5; 1 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1