God's Effectual Call?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Bible-boy, Oct 5, 2005.

  1. Bible-boy

    Bible-boy
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    In a recent thread in the Baptist College and Seminary Forum entitled: “Seminary training and opportunity to minister” http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/8/611.html contained a poll asking several questions. One of the questions drew my attention. The question asked us to rank what we believed to be the most important three considerations for a man entering the ministry. The choices to rank were as follows:

    A. Marriage
    B. Experience in Ministry
    C. Seminary Degree and Training
    D. Going to an Approved Seminary Versus an Unapproved Seminary
    E. God's Effectual Call upon your Life to Ministry ...

    It was this last choice (E) that caught my attention. I note that as of this writing 89 percent of the responders have selected (E) as one of the most important considerations for a man entering the ministry. This led me to ask:
    Where is the idea of "God's effectual Call" found in the Bible?
    </font>[/QUOTE]To date no one has responded to my question. I expect that this issue could result in some lengthy debate. However, the Baptist Colleges and Seminary Form is in the Baptist Fellowship section of the BB (not intended for debate). Therefore, I thought to move the discussion into the Baptist Debate section.

    Let me begin by stating that I do not believe that it is impossible for God (or not within His ability) to “call” someone into ministry. However, I do believe that we (as Evangelicals) use the term “called” way too loosely without fully understanding what God’s word has to say about those who serve in ministry. Typically, when Evangelicals talk about one’s life-work we default to a traditional view and use the distinctive biblical term—called. The traditional view cites many illustrations from Scripture where God called a specific individual to a specific task and thereby teaches that the call of God is the essential aspect in determining one’s profession (held to be true even if one does not become a pastor or missionary).

    With all that said the best way to begin examining the idea of “called” is to examine the Scriptures where it is specifically used. The following summary relies heavily on Garry Friesen’s book Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View.

    The Greek verb kaleo, meaning “to call,” is found 148 times in the NT (with an additional 70 uses of related terms from the same root).

    There are three theological usages of the word:

    1. In the gospels Jesus frequently uses the word in the sense of summoning or inviting sinners (Matt. 9:13) to come to repentance, faith, salvation, and service.

    2. Paul applied the term to a more restricted doctrinal use to describe God’s gracious work within a sinner whereby He effectively brings that person to faith and salvation (effective or efficacious grace in contrast to the common grace given to all mankind but rejected by many). This use of “call” was important in Paul’s development of the doctrine of sovereign grace and election (Rom. 8:28-30).

    3. The call to a specific function or office. This use of the term occurs three times in the NT: (A) God’s call of Paul to be an apostle (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1); (B) God’s call of Barnabas and Saul to be the Church’s first missionaries (Acts 13:2); and (C) God’s call to Paul and his companions to take the gospel to Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10).

    Clearly, the first two uses of the term “called” are not what we have in mind with respect to the traditional view regarding our life’s-work. It is this third use of the term “called” (to a specific function or office) where we want to focus our examination. A vigilant assessment of these examples along with the rest of the NT exposes the fact that they are the exception rather than the rule. In his book entitled, Can you Know God’s Will for Your Life? Charles R. Smith states:
    Note that in each of the three cases (identified in the bold number 3 above) the means of communication was some form of supernatural revelation. When Saul was on the road to Damascus he heard the audible voice of the exalted Christ (Acts 9:1-16; 26:14-20). The command to “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” is attributed to the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2). Here again God either spoke to the church at Antioch in an audible voice or through one of the prophets mentioned in Acts 13:1. Finally, Paul received his “Macedonian Call” through a revelatory vision (Acts 16:9-10). Most importantly we should note that in none of these instances (or elsewhere in the NT) was such a call communicated through any sort of inward impression.

    Friesen goes on to point out that each “vocational call” (referenced in the bold number 3 above) was issued only to certain individuals at certain times. The book of Acts clearly reveals that the Holy Spirit was vigilantly overseeing the beginning stages of the Church’s growth. However, only at crucial moments and in influential ways did God intercede supernaturally to commission workers, chart a particular course, or point in a specific direction. The remainder of the time God’s purposes were accomplished through saints obeying the moral will of God (which is fully revealed to us in the Scriptures so we don’t have to guess what it is or seek out some special form of revelation).

    Every instance of the special call of God was unsought and unexpected. Certainly God could give a vocational call to each believer. His ability to do so is not in question. However, it is important to note that there is no instruction directing Christians to seek out such leading. The biblical examples of God interrupting the normal flow of life to reveal His will clearly emphasize the sovereign origin of such revelations.

    Finally, the concept of “the call of God” is prominent in the NT. However, the vocational sense of the term occupies only a minor place (J.I. Packer refers to it as “subordinate”), and when it occurs it is never presented as pertaining to all believers.

    So we see that the idea of a vocational call is in harmony with the theological framework of the traditional view, and that there are indeed instances found in Scripture where God did call certain men to special tasks. However, these two facts are not sufficient to establish the reality of a vocational call for all believers. Again, clearly God could make such choices and reveal them as He has done in the past. Yet, the indication of Scripture is that God did not normally lead that way in biblical times, and we should not expect Him to do so today.

    [ December 10, 2005, 01:04 AM: Message edited by: Bible-boy ]
     
  2. bapmom

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    Actually,

    I think there's alot of individuals "waiting" for a call into ministry, when I believe there ought to be a whole lot more active volunteering to go into ministry. If you volunteer, and God prevents you from going into full-time ministry, then in the least we are all called upon to serve God as laymen.
    I see in the NT that many times instances are cited of faithful individuals serving God as they served others in their community and in their local church, even though they did not make their living that way.
     
  3. Gunther

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    Actually, this idea of a "call" to ministry is based on emotions and not biblical reality. Do a search on the word "call" in the N.T. and you will see what God means by that term. Here is a hint: it is vastly different then the kind of garbage pushed in many pulpits today.
     
  4. Bible-boy

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    Hey bapmom,

    Herbert Kane in his book entitled, Understanding Missions states:
    Some folks express a concern for the high percentage of people who go through seminary and then drop out of the ministry. I assume part of their concern is that perhaps most of these seminary trained people were not actually "called" by God into ministry. However, I'm not so concerned about the high drop out rate. Rather, like Herbert Kane I'm more concerned that those who have the desire to serve (as in 1 Tim. 3:1) do not even attempt to do so because they are waiting on some unbiblical subjective internal sense of being "called" that never comes.
     
  5. Bible-boy

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    With 23 out of 26 voters in the poll, which inspired this topic, saying that they believe that "God's effectual call on your life to ministry" is one of the top three considerations for those entering the ministry I would have expected greater interest and debate over the opening post.

    [ October 06, 2005, 12:38 AM: Message edited by: Bible-boy ]
     
  6. Bob Colgan

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    Most Important for a man entering ministry
    1) Humility
    2) Humility
    3) A calling to ministry
     
  7. bapmom

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    Bible-Boy,

    I may have read his book in my Missions classes in college. At any rate, I know at least one of my professors was also of this opinion, and he really had an influence on me. We were rather of the bent that people ought to be on their way to some sort of mission field, whether foreign or domestic, and then have to have God actively stop them if He does not want them going.

    It means alot to us now, as my husband and I are in training to go to the foreign field someday.


    Now, I have another question. Ive seen a couple responses about humility being required. Not arguing with that idea, per se, but this is really about how to determine if you yourself are supposed to go into the ministry. So how do you determine for yourself that you are humble enough? Isn't humility one of those things that is learned through trial and error over the years of service? Perhaps we are seeing a "call to ministry" as being something so high and elite that we cannot aspire to it without some sort of clear "call" from God which gives us credence in front of other people. By saying, "well, Im volunteering," are we afraid that we are not being humble?

    This is an honest question. I agree that ministering to others is an awesome responsibility, but is it really something that gives us prestige over others? No. At least we should not see it that way. And if we do not see it as "prestigious" than are we not more free to realize that we are allowed to volunteer?

    I always look at the passage in Isaiah when the Lord said "Who will go?", and Isaiah simply said "Here am I Lord, send me."
    Thats a volunteer.
     
  8. gb93433

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    You are right. If a man is not winning people to Christ now what makes him think he will do it once he graduates from seminary or pastors a church. He has double the number of contacts now than when he will pastor.
     
  9. Bible-boy

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    Hello Bob,

    Can you please provide a definition of what is meant by the term "calling"? Likewise, it would be most helpful if you could also cite a specific passage of Scriptue where such a "call" is required of ministers.
     
  10. Bob Colgan

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    When I hear the term calling I think of what is needed for a man to serve in ministry. I understand it can be seen as how does a man know that he is to go into ministry. I believe that the number one attribute are gift for a minister are any Christian is humility. 1 Tim 3:1-13 if you look at the requirement none of these can be attanded in any way except in the flesh are self will unless one be humble. Isiah 66:2 I know I need the Lord to look upon me and guid my ministry.
    Is humility a growing process yes but there must be some sanctification in a man's life and the greatest growth in a persons life must be humility. I see so many churchs that are lacking humility every thing is done in the flesh. And when things are done in the flesh can God be glorified? I believe that man is glorified. Will God bless that ministry?

    By His Grace
    Bob
     
  11. Bob Colgan

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  12. Gunther

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    It is really quite simple people. What is the very first thing Paul mentions when he discusses qualification for an elder?

    IF ANY MAN DESIRE THE OFFICE OF OVERSEER...

    There it is. If you have a desire to be an elder, that is the first and most important qualification. Everything else stems from the first.

    Oh, and I like the total disregard for the one: able to teach.

    Look, anyone can "minister" to other people. Not just anyone can sufficiently open God's word and teach from it.
     
  13. bapmom

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    yes, but Gunther, you're limiting the terms of discussion to pastor/elder. I think we are discussing here more than just that position, at least I have been. Ive volunteered to be in the ministry, but obviously Im not going to be in the position of pastor or elder or evangelist.

    Although the ability to teach, I agree, is an important aspect in almost all areas of ministry.
     
  14. El_Guero

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  15. El_Guero

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    Bible boy

    If God has not given you an effectual call ... then why has He not called you?
     
  16. Bible-boy

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    Hey El-Guero,

    What is "God's Effectual Call?" Please define it. It would be most helpful if you could provide a Scripture reference that says such a call is required of a minister of the gospel. Likewise, please show me from the Scripture where God uses such a "call" to determine who is best suited to be a minister of the gospel.

    When Paul wrote to Titus about establishing the church in Crete he did not tell Titus to go out and find the men that "God had effectually called" to be elders. Rather, Paul said:
    Then Paul goes on to give Titus a list of characteristics (or requirements) to help him identify men who could serve a elders. Note that in verse 6 the Word says "If any man is..." It does not say "If any man who God has effectually called is..."

    I do have a desire to minister (as in 1 Tim. 3:1). However, I have not had any type of experience like Paul (on the Damascus Road, with the church at Antioch, or his Macedonian vision) where God clearly intervened to cause me to move in a certain direction or into a specific function/office.

    I want to allow the text of Scripture to be the sieve that my life and experiences are passed through (making the Scriptures the ultimate and final authority), rather than passing the Scripture through the sieve of my life and subjective experiences (giving my life and subjective experiences authority over the Scriptures).

    Therefore, the final authority of the Scriptures must be relied upon to define "God's effectual calling" and how that appiles to my life in ministry (if such a "calling" is required for ministers of the gospel).

    [ October 08, 2005, 12:16 AM: Message edited by: Bible-boy ]
     
  17. Bible-boy

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    Hello Bob,

    I agree with you that humility is a very important characteristic for one who would serve as a minister of the gospel. However, does being humble equate to "God's effectual call on your life to ministry?" I don't think so and the Scripture certainly does not bear that out.
     
  18. gb93433

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    Originally posted by Bible-boy:
    Some are forced out by those in churches who are lazy and want a social club. Any man who preaches the truth with passion and conviction will get trouble from many. He will find there are pastors who will not like him nor some in congregations. However, the godly will love him.
     
  19. Bible-boy

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    Garry Friesen in his book Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View recounts his own ordination council. He recalls that as he was about to face 30 or so pastors and church representatives for examination one well meaning pastor told him, “Just remember, son, it’s the call of God that matters, the call of God.”

    Friesen knew that when a candidate is examined for ordination into the gospel ministry the council generally asks questions focused on three key areas (1) his experience of conversion; (2) his call to the ministry; (3) his doctrinal positions. He was certain of his salvation and knew that his testimony would not be a problem. Likewise, he had 10 years of intense study under his belt and was sure of his doctrinal stance and his ability to defend what he believes. However, it was question number 2 that caused him to be concerned.

    His examination began pleasantly enough. He gave his personal testimony and all was moving along just fine. Then came the question about his “call” to ministry. He explained to them that he had never seen bright lights or heard voices as had the apostle Paul. They assured him that they did not expect him to have had such an experience. So in a very submissive and respectful manner he asked them if they would give him a definition of what they meant by “call” and observed that it would be helpful if they could cite a specific passage of Scripture where such a call is required of ministers.

    Several of the councilmen offered descriptions of an inward call using expressions such as “inward compulsion” and “strong inner feeling.” As the council discussed the matter two things became clear: (1) A precise definition was hard to nail down; (2) the requirement of an inward call could not be found in the Scriptures. However, everyone remained convinced that a call was needed. Finally, one councilman defined the call as a strong feeling or compulsion. Then another pastor spoke up and said, “If my ministry depended on my feelings, I would probably drop out about every two weeks.”

    Friesen’s question made it clear that he had a problem with the concept of a call to ministry. So the council rephrased its line of questioning. They asked, “If you don’t feel that you have had one of these ‘calls’ to the ministry, why do you want to be a minister?” Now Friesen felt that they had asked the right question. He replied by paraphrasing 1 Tim. 3:1. He said, “I want to serve the Lord in the best and fullest way possible. God says that the office of pastor provides a good means for serving Him. So I have consciously aspired to become qualified for that position. The characteristics listed in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5 have been my personal goals.”

    The council said that his reasons for desiring ordination were good ones. However, they encouraged him to give careful thought to his sense of a call. Friesen agreed that he would do so. One man warned him that unless a man had more of a “call” than he had, he would quickly drop out of the ministry. Friesen was ordained and has remained in the ministry. ;) [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  20. Bible-boy

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    Hello El-Guero,

    This is the formal fallacy of begging the question. First, you have yet to provide a definition of what you mean by the term "effectual call." Second, you have yet to provide a reference to a specific passage of Scripture that shows that such a "call" is required of all who would serve as ministers of the gospel. Third, you have yet to demonstrate from Scripture that God does indeed "call" all those who serve as ministers. Yet, you are asking me to answer a question that you have not demonstrated to be based upon a valid premise.

    Therefore, you'll first have to define what is meant by the term "effectual call". Then it would be helpful if you could provide a Scripture reference that shows that such a "call" is required of those who would serve as ministers of the gospel. Then you'll need to demonstrate for me, from the Scriptures, that God does indeed "effectually call" all who serve as ministers. After that I may be able to answer your question.

    [ October 07, 2005, 05:12 AM: Message edited by: Bible-boy ]
     

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